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Testifying at Vatican megatrial, cardinal rebuts claims that he paid to entice rival

VATICAN CITY (RNS) — Cardinal Angelo Becciu laid out his model of occasions on the coronary heart of the Vatican’s megatrial in regards to the buy of actual property in London utilizing a charitable fund, touching in his testimony on his rivalry with Cardinal George Pell and his relationship with Italian political analyst Cecilia Marogna.

As he has over the previous two years, Becciu, previously the Vatican’s third-highest-ranking official and the primary cardinal in reminiscence to face trial on the Vatican, claimed he’s bewildered by the accusations towards him of embezzlement, witness tampering and abuse of workplace.

“I used to be thrown on the entrance web page of newspapers, virtually like a monster,” Becciu mentioned. “For over a 12 months and a half I’m plagued by one query: Why? Why have these defamatory issues been mentioned to the pope?”

In addition to the fees within the real-estate matter, Becciu faces accusations that he misdirected funds belonging to the Italian bishops’ convention and the Secretariat to a charitable group in Sardinia run by his brother Antonino. It’s additionally been alleged that he despatched 1000’s of {dollars} to Australia to spur on costs of sexual abuse towards Pell, whom Pope Francis had appointed as a monetary watchdog. (Pell was finally acquitted on attraction.)

Becciu denied each accusations, saying, “None, not even one in every of my family enriched themselves” with the cash despatched to Sardinia.

He mentioned the fee that went to Australia was used to purchase an web area and confirmed the court docket a letter signed by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin to help his declare. Becciu additionally claimed that Pell himself signed the authorization for the fee, including that he was “sorry that Cardinal Pell has stumbled into this misunderstanding.”

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It was the accusation about Sardinia, Becciu mentioned, that Francis primarily confronted him about throughout the viewers that led to Becciu’s being stripped of all however his title of cardinal in September 2020 — “the mom of all my misfortune,” he termed it.

Pope Francis inside St. Peter’s Basilica, on the Vatican, April 14, 2022. (AP Photograph/Gregorio Borgia)

Becciu served as substitute, equal to deputy chief of employees, in 2014 when the Vatican’s Secretariat of State launched into the acquisition of an residence complicated in London’s Chelsea neighborhood, utilizing funds from Peter’s Pence, comprising contributions from Catholics all over the world to the pope’s charitable work.

The deal proved ruinous, dropping a staggering $384 million, based on Vatican prosecutors. Becciu is amongst 10 defendants at trial, who prosecutors say had an element within the buy and who’ve been accused of crimes starting from misuse of their places of work to cash laundering.

Becciu’s testimony lasted for greater than two hours, a lot of it revealing the inside workings of the Secretariat of State’s monetary operations and the pondering behind the deal.

The cardinal advised the tribunal of judges overseeing the trial that the acquisition was accepted by each Pope Francis and his second-in-command, Parolin. Becciu additionally underlined that he didn’t make any resolution with out having beforehand consulted Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, who previously headed the Secretariat’s administrative workplace.

Becciu referred to as the cost that he misused Vatican funds “unfounded accusations,” saying that his authority as substitute included administering the Secretariat’s accounts, which he claims contained roughly $700 million when he took the job in 2011. “There was by no means any objection” from Parolin or the pope relating to the investments, he mentioned.

FILE - The Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin attends at the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Catholic missionaries in China from an Italian religious order meeting, in Milan, Italy, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin in Milan, Italy, Oct. 3, 2020. (AP Photograph/Antonio Calanni)

Becciu mentioned the Secretariat of State didn’t fall below the jurisdiction of auditors, bankers or managers on the Vatican, characterizing it as “an ivory tower.” 

The motivation for the deal, he claimed, was the necessity for money to finance the operations of the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s forms. “We have been compelled to speculate and discover the cash,” he mentioned.

Becciu mentioned Perlasca warded him off his suggestion that the Secretariat spend money on an oil rig in Angola, the place he had served as papal consultant earlier in his profession. Others within the Secretariat determined to spend money on the London property as a substitute, and he had no function in organising the deal, he mentioned. Becciu criticized Perlasca for not informing him of the main points of the deal “after I was his superior.“ 

Becciu rebutted the concept that the cash for the funding got here from Peter’s Pence, saying the acquisition got here out of reserve funds of the Secretariat.

He mentioned Perlasca, initially a spotlight of the investigations earlier than turning into a witness within the proceedings, regarded his workplace on the Secretariat as “a small kingdom that he felt he headed.” 

“In all my administration, I by no means decided on monetary issues” with out Perlasca’s recommendation, Becciu mentioned.

In this Feb. 9, 2017, file photo, Monsignor Giovanni Angelo Becciu presides over a Eucharistic liturgy at St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)

On this Feb. 9, 2017, file photograph, Monsignor Giovanni Angelo Becciu presides over a Eucharistic liturgy at St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome. (AP Photograph/Gregorio Borgia, File)

After Perlasca was fired from the Secretariat, Becciu testified, the monsignor was depressed and talked a few need to kill himself in early July 2020. Becciu mentioned that Geneviève Putignani, a wealthy Italian who Becciu claimed had paid Perlasca handsomely to carry out Plenty for her after her loss of life, lobbied the cardinal to return to Perlasca’s protection after his ouster.

In a 2020 interview within the Italian newspaper La Verità, Putignani mentioned Becciu had accused her of plotting towards him whereas “blaspheming God and yelling issues towards the pope.” Becciu has filed defamation claims towards each Putignani and Perlasca.

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The Italian press was most avid, maybe, to listen to the cardinal clarify his relationship with Marogna, whom reporters have dubbed “the cardinal’s girl.” Becciu mentioned the intelligence analyst helped negotiate the liberation of a Colombian nun kidnapped in Mali, claiming that “each step of this operation was accepted by the Holy Father.” 

Colombian nun Gloria Cecilia Narvaez, who was held captive for nearly five years by the Mali-based Islamic insurgency, places her hands on her face during a press conference in Bogota, Colombia, Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. The nun, who was seized near the border with Burkina Faso and held since Feb. 7, 2017, was released on Oct. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Ivan Valencia)

Colombian nun Gloria Cecilia Narvaez, who was held captive for almost 5 years by a Mali-based Islamic insurgency, locations her fingers on her face throughout a information convention in Bogota, Colombia, Nov. 19, 2021. The nun, who was seized close to the border with Burkina Faso and held since Feb. 7, 2017, was launched on Oct. 9, 2021. (AP Photograph/Ivan Valencia)

In accordance with media stories, Marogna was paid $587,900, which she spent on luxurious items, however Becciu mentioned that “no quantity had been destined as compensation for Marogna,” although he deliberate to pay her for her work.

He expressed “robust indignation” to allegations that he had a romantic relationship with Marogna, whom he mentioned he revered for her data on world points.

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