Vatican.  Cardinal Becciu was sentenced to five and a half years in prison

The trial of Cardinal Becciu, who was sentenced on Saturday to five and a half years in prison for financial irregularities in the Holy See – as assessed by the daily Corriere della Sera – revealed a whole series of scandals, irregularities, a reckless approach to financial affairs and sharp conflicts between the institutions of the Bronze Gate. Cardinal’s defense announces appeal.

Nine other people were tried at the Vatican along with Cardinal Becciu, including financiers and employees of the State Department. The main subject of the trial was the purchase of a luxury residential home in London for more than €300 million financed by the Foreign Office. When the deal was revealed, the Vatican sold the property at a huge loss.

The Italian Cardinal’s defense announced that it would file an appeal and confirmed that he was innocent. The public prosecutor demanded that the Italian Cardinal be imprisoned for seven years and three months. Other accused middlemen in the deal were also sentenced to prison terms ranging from three to seven years, including financier Gianluigi Torzi, who was sentenced to six years in prison.

“The trial of the century”

The media described the case, which began nearly two and a half years ago before the Vatican City Court, as “the trial of the century.” As Deputy Secretary of State, Becciu was the third person in the hierarchy of the Holy See.

Giovanni Angelo BecchioGrzegorz Galazka/Eastern News

This process, according to commentators, was also a test of the effectiveness and transparency of the process of financial regulation, which Pope Francis began about 10 years ago. For this reason, as the Vatican noted, the authority of the Pope and the credibility of the Church’s social teaching are at stake.

The ruling was issued shortly before the Pope’s 87th birthday on Sunday. During the trial in the Vatican court, more than 80 hearings were held, which were closely monitored by journalists.

Details of the accusation

Serious accusations of financial fraud were brought against the 75-year-old Cardinal Becchio and, among others, two financiers: Raffaele Mincioni and Gianluigi Torzi. They were accused of embezzling huge sums of money. The purchase in 2014 – as an investment – of a luxury property worth more than 300 million euros on Sloane Street in London with Foreign Office funds was also considered. The money for this deal came partly from Saint Peter’s Day, i.e. donations to the Pope’s charitable activities.

The losses incurred by the State Secretariat as a result of this deal range from 139 to 189 million euros – this is the balance submitted to the court by the promoter of justice, equivalent to the public prosecutor – Alessando Didi.

Cardinal’s Defense Becciu argued that as substitute (deputy) Secretary of State, he dealt with administrative issues and had no influence on the purchase of this property.

Other allegations against Becciu

Although the London tenement case was the focus of the trial, the Sardinian cardinal was also accused of making transfers from State Secretariat funds to cooperative accounts run by his brother on that island. The notables refuted these accusations, confirming that the funds amounted to a total of more than 100 thousand Polish zlotys. Euro – was intended for charitable purposes.

Another aspect of the case relates to efforts to release a nun kidnapped by jihadists in Mali. In this regard, Becciu contacted Italian Cecilia Marogna, who presents herself as an expert in international affairs. It received about half a million euros from the Vatican. Then it turned out that instead of working to free the nun, she embezzled the money given to her. I spent it on, among other things, luxury goods. She also sat on the accused’s seat.

Regarding the allegations reported by the media, Cardinal Becciu said that, in the fall of 2020, Pope Francis immediately forced the cardinal to resign as prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and deprived him of the privileges of cardinal dignity, including participation in the next conclave.

The parties harmed in this operation demanded total compensation amounting to approximately 700 million euros. The Secretariat of State of the Holy See itself demanded compensation of more than 177 million euros from the defendants. This request was submitted during one of the hearings by his representative, the former Italian Minister of Justice, Professor Paola Severino, justifying it by “severe moral losses” and damage to the reputation of this main institution in the Roman Curia.

Barbourat secretly recorded Pope Francis

During this process, there were also dramatic twists and turns that seemed – as observers noted – almost unimaginable. It turns out that the Italian Financial Guard found a recording of Becciu’s conversation with the Pope from July 2021. Francesc was secretly recorded by Borporat.

This conversation took place three days before the opening of the Vatican trial and after the Pope left the hospital after serious intestinal surgery. The disclosed recording shows that third parties were also involved in its production and recorded the conversation in consultation with the Italian cardinal. During a 5-minute conversation, the transcript of which was published by the media, Becchio complained to the Pope that he had already “condemned” him and therefore, he said, this process was not necessary.

In addition, Borborat attempted to obtain confirmation from Francis that he had agreed to pay a ransom for the release of a Colombian nun kidnapped by jihadists in Mali. The Pope did not seem convinced of this in this conversation. Furthermore, the recording clearly shows that he had not yet fully recovered from the surgery and was weak.

The trial of Cardinal Becciu and others accused of financial irregularities in the Holy See revealed – according to the assessment of the daily Corriere della Sera – a whole series of scandals, irregularities, reckless handling of financial matters, questionable investments in real estate and intense conflicts between institutions behind the Bronze Gate, and thus led to To “significant damage to the image, loss of competencies and authority” by the Vatican Secretariat of State.

It is estimated that more than 50,000 articles have been published about this scandal. Publications in 130 countries. “Looting in the Vatican”, “Waste of money for the poor” – these are some of the titles of the articles I cited.

Main image source: Grzegorz Galazka/Eastern News

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