ROME, Italy — The former #3 man in the Vatican faces trial for embezzlement, abuse of office, and bribery, the Holy See announced this weekend.
Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the former sostituto of the powerful Vatican Secretariat of State, has been indicted together with nine others for alleged financial wrongdoing culminating in the purchase of an expensive investment property in London’s tony Chelsea district in 2018.
The Vatican reportedly lost several hundred million euros on the London property along with several other bad investments.
Pope Francis had already stripped Cardinal Becciu of his position in the Vatican last year as well as the rights and privileges enjoyed by members of the College of Cardinals, including voting in the next papal conclave, after he was tied to a number of shady financial deals.
Some Vatican-watchers have wondered aloud, however, how the Holy See can try Becciu without trying two other prominent members of the Roman Curia also linked to the London scandal, namely Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State, and Becciu’s successor as sostituto, Venezuelan Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra.
“There’s a clear paper trail showing that Parolin and Peña Parra had been briefed on the details of the various transactions involved and gave their assent,” veteran Vatican journalist John Allen wrote Sunday, in reference to the purchase of the London property.
For many observers, “it’s tempting to reach the conclusion that Parolin and Peña Parra were spared at least in part because they’re close to Pope Francis and thus politically ‘untouchable,’” Allen proposes. “Becciu, meanwhile, had fallen out of favor with the pontiff in 2018 and could be seen as ‘expendable.’”
For his part, the 73-year-old Becciu has protested his “absolute innocence,” insisting he was the “victim of a plot.” He will appear before a tribunal from July 27.