Vatican Cardinal Angelo Becciu Resigns amid Financial Scandals

Cardinal Angelo Becciu talks to journalists during press conference in Rome, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. The powerful head of the Vatican's saint-making office, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, has resigned from the post and renounced his rights as a cardinal amid a financial scandal that has reportedly implicated him indirectly. (AP Photo/Gregorio …
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

ROME — Cardinal Angelo Becciu has resigned from his position in the Vatican and renounced the rights enjoyed by members of the College of Cardinals after being tied to a number of shady financial deals.

Italian media described the affair as the effective “sacking” of the cardinal by Pope Francis, implying that the resignation was most likely not voluntary. Though not formally stripped of the title of cardinal, Becciu will not enjoy any of the rights and privileges that accompany the office, which presumably includes participation in the conclave to elect a future pope.

A statement from the Holy See press office reads, “Today, Thursday, Sept. 24, the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and related rights of the Cardinalate, presented by His Eminence Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu.”

As Breitbart News reported last October, Cardinal Becciu was accused of obstructing investigations initiated by Cardinal George Pell into financial improprieties by Vatican officials. The Financial Times revealed that massive Vatican investments in London properties made in 2014 and 2018 had been authorized by Becciu, who was the second-ranking official in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State at that time.

Becciu was also involved in an obscure series of financial transactions surrounding the purchase of the Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata (IDI), a Church-owned dermatological hospital in Rome that collapsed in 2013 under millions of euros of debt.

In February 2018, leaked documents revealed that the Vatican had asked the Papal Foundation, a U.S.-based charity, for $25 million to help bail out IDI, which had filed for bankruptcy after a staggering 800 million euros went “missing.”

A 2015 criminal investigation into corruption at IDI led to an indictment of 40 persons, charged with a total of 144 counts of crimes, including fraudulent bankruptcy, the issuance of false invoices, concealment of accounting records, embezzlement, and tax evasion. The alleged financial fraud became one of the Church’s largest economic scandals in recent memory.

Last fall, Vatican security carried out an unprecedented internal raid on the offices of the Secretariat of State and the Financial Information Authority, which oversees the Vatican Bank. Vatican gendarmes confiscated documents and electronic devices, and five Vatican employees were suspended on allegations of financial wrongdoing involving property dealings in London’s upscale Chelsea district worth some $350 million. The real estate deal reportedly cost the Vatican millions of euros in payments to middlemen.

One of the five Vatican staff caught up in the October 2 raid was Monsignor Mauro Carlino, a former secretary and longtime aide to Becciu, who resided in the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta, where Pope Francis lives.

It was reportedly Becciu who blocked an external audit of all Vatican departments in 2016, which was to be carried out by the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Becciu was also responsible for the dismissal of the Vatican’s first-ever auditor general, Libero Milone, in 2017. Suspicions have been raised that both Pell’s prosecution in Australia for alleged abuse, which resulted in his removal from his post as economic czar in the Vatican, and the firing of the auditor general, were driven at least in part by Becciu’s efforts to cover his tracks and avoid an investigation into his dealings.

At that time, Becciu wrote a letter to every Vatican office announcing the pause in proceedings and the revocation of authority that Pell had given the auditor to collect financial information.

Milone declared that he had been dismissed on bogus charges after he unearthed evidence of financial misconduct that implicated Becciu, noting that his investigations and the reforming work of Pell’s Prefecture for the Economy were perceived as a threat to the business practices of powerful Curial officials.

In March 2019, Vatican journalist Marco Tossati wrote an essay titled “Cannons in Australia with Bullets Made in the Vatican,” saying this was a phrase he had often heard from Vatican insiders who were convinced that accusations against Pell in Australia were instigated by his enemies in Rome.

On Friday, Cardinal Pell reacted to the removal of Cardinal Becciu by praising Pope Francis’s financial housecleaning.

“The Holy Father was elected to clean up Vatican finances,” Pell told the Weekend Australian. “He plays a long game and is to be congratulated on recent developments.”

“I hope the clean-ups of the Augean stables continue, both in the Vatican and in Victoria,” he said.

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