This Thursday afternoon, Cardinal Angelo Becciu entered the apostolic palace. With his folder in hand, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints hoped to discuss future canonizations and beatifications with the Pope. A few minutes before eight o’clock in the afternoon, Angelo Becciu would leave the Vatican walls, looking downcast. He was no longer a cardinal. Or, at least, it cannot exercise as such, a situation that only Cardinal O’Brien (before the last conclave) and the pedophile McCarrick have suffered in the last century.
A few minutes later, a laconic note from the Sala Stampa of the Holy See stated that ‘Today, Thursday, September 24, the Holy Father has accepted the resignation of the position of prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and related rights to the cardinal, presented by Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu ‘. What had happened?
Neither more nor less, that Becciu had been caught red-handed. Or so maintains, unofficially, Rome. An extensive report from L’Espresso points to an investigation ordered by Francis in 2018 – not yet concluded – that would demonstrate how a network of companies dependent on whoever was between 2011 and 2018 Substitute for the Secretariat of State (a kind of ‘number three’ of the Vatican), and his brothers, gradually generated “a huge abyss” in the accounts of the Holy See that reached 454 million euros. Among them, the famous purchase of a palace in Sloane Square, in the heart of London, for between 160 and 200 million euros.
“I am innocent and I will prove it”
“I’m upset. Annoyed. It has been a shock for me, for my family, for the people of my country,” explained, almost in a whisper, the former prefect to Franca Giansoldatti, from Il Messaggero. “In a spirit of obedience, and for the love I have for the Church and the Holy Father, I have accepted his request to step aside,” he explains, giving a letter of nature to what is an open secret: it has not been a resignation, but a dismissal.
Francisco has struck down Becciu, although the cryptic Vatican terminology speaks of “acceptance of the resignation”, without giving any reason to it, which unleashes all kinds of interpretations. Angelo Becciu paid them in the brief conversation with Giansoldatti: “I am innocent and I will prove it. I ask the Holy Father to allow me the right to defend myself.”
L’Espresso’s research leaves little room for doubt. According to the Italian newspaper, Becciu and her surroundings wove a network of money diversion that, for years, went unnoticed in the eyes of the Holy See. And the few who wanted to warn the Pope – like the Spaniard Lucio Vallejo Balda – were conveniently purged by the greased curial machine. Now, Bergoglio ordered “an iron fist” against corrupt and corrupters. And his pulse has not trembled.
As reported by L’Espresso, Becciu derived the money from the Italian Episcopal Conference and the Obolo de San Pedro to various cooperatives and companies, owned by his brothers. In fact, he “seized” several times funds from these institutions for the cooperative ‘Spes’, whose owner and legal representative was Tonino Becciu, something he did up to three times, worth 700,000 non-refundable euros.
It was not the first time that the Becciu brothers did something similar. During his years as Nuncio in Angola or Cuba, a company of another brother of the cardinal, Francesco, dedicated to carpentry, furnished and modernized many churches. At that time, there was no type of control over contracts, which allowed hiring ‘by hand’.
A third brother of Becciu, Mario, professor of psychology at the Salesian University of Rome, owns 95% of the shares of ‘Angel’s, srl’, a company dedicated to the distribution of food and beverages, which using a supposed solidarity market (los proceeds would go to Caritas Italia, which did not see a single euro), they bottled a beer, the ‘Birra Pollicina’, of which there is no longer any copy.
The Becciu family companies based their work on hard-to-trace money flows. Money that, as the L’Espresso documents show, was reinvested in real estate and financial capital, generating “a huge abyss”, a hole in the Vatican accounts of about 454 million euros. Among them, the 160 million destined for the purchase of a palace in Sloane Square in London.
He asked the Pope’s Bank for 150 million
Money that was diverted to tax havens through various holding companies and shell companies, with residence in Luxembourg, Malta or Asia. These companies used the money taken from the Holy See, behind the back of Pope Francis. “Becciu preferred to maintain his private interests (…) rather than comply with the clear policy of the Vatican,” explains the weekly, which specifies that the controversial purchase of the London palace was another step in the process of ‘laundering’ of funds, which It clashed head-on with Pope Francis’ policy of transparency and the fight against corruption.
Everything began to collapse when the director of the IOR, Gian Franco Mammi, received a request for 150 million euros from Becciu, with the justification of “institutional reasons”. Mammi went to the Pope to ask if he was aware of the interbank movements of the then Substitute for the Secretary of State. Bergoglio put his hands to his head and, shortly after, Becciu was ‘promoted’ to the factory of saints, and removed from the direct financial responsibilities of the Holy See. At the time, Francisco ordered an investigation that has not yet concluded but which, it seems, could have demonstrated such serious irregularities that they have ended with the defenestration of Becciu. For the moment.
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