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Vatican opens new investigation, alleging disgraced cardinal secretly recorded Pope Francis

VATICAN CITY (RNS) — Vatican prosecutors introduced a brand new investigation of Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a previously high-ranking Catholic church official already on trial on prices of economic mismanagement and corruption, alleging that the disgraced cleric illegally recorded a dialog with Pope Francis.

A recording of a dialog between the pope and Becciu was introduced to Vatican judges Thursday (Nov. 24) by the chief Vatican prosecutor, Alessandro Diddi, who described it as “disturbing” proof that the cardinal was trying to coerce the pope to say one thing that would have redeemed him on the trial. The brand new investigation would add a cost of prison conspiracy to his slate of alleged offenses.

The recording, dated July 24, 2021, was made three days earlier than the beginning of a trial through which Becciu is certainly one of 10 defendants concerned in a controversial and dear actual property deal that misplaced, ultimately rely, as a lot as 20 million euro. Becciu is charged with abuse of workplace, embezzlement and witness tampering within the buy of a luxurious house advanced in London.

The dialog additionally came about only a day after Francis was launched from the Roman hospital, Policlinico il Gemelli, after invasive colon surgery. Diddi identified that the pope’s solutions within the dialog had been brief and confused, arguing that Francis was clearly “drained” from the operation.

“You’ve already condemned me, it’s ineffective to go to trial,” Becciu instructed the pontiff within the recorded cellphone name, referring to a letter he obtained from Francis through which the pope introduced him with the costs by Vatican prosecutors. The cardinal then requested Francis to verify that he licensed the expenditure of 500,000 euro for an company to barter the liberation of a nun who had been kidnapped in Mali.

“See, I recall that I knowledgeable you about all of this … keep in mind?” Becciu mentioned, in response to the transcript of the dialog printed by Italian information outlet Adnkronos.

Vatican prosecutors declare that Becciu despatched 575,000 euro to Cecilia Marogna, a self-proclaimed worldwide relations professional who spent the Vatican cash on luxurious items and spa remedies. Marogna, generally known as “the Cardinal’s Girl” within the Italian press, isn’t talked about within the dialog with the pope.

The recording is a part of a sequence of paperwork and proof collected by the monetary police in Becciu’s native area of Sardinia.

Becciu additionally asks whether or not Francis supposed to take away a seal of pontifical secrecy on the Vatican’s worldwide dealings, together with ransoms paid for its clergy. “That is your determination Holy Father, I received’t power you if we received’t observe the pontifical secret,” he mentioned.

Within the recording, the voices of Becciu’s niece, Maria Luisa Zambrano, and an unidentified man could be heard listening in on the dialog. Prosecutors declare that their presence violates Vatican secrecy legal guidelines.

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

Francis could be heard answering merely, “I perceive,” however the pontiff insisted he intends to stay above the dynamics of the trial, asking Becciu to ship a written declaration of his case.

In a textual content message two days earlier than the recording to a different of Becciu’s kinfolk, Giovanna Pani, the cardinal writes that the pope “needs me useless.”

In September 2020, Pope Francis accepted Becciu’s resignation from all his Vatican positions and stripped him of all his rights as a cardinal, whereas permitting him to maintain the title. Native media on the time reported that Becciu had funneled Vatican funds to a charitable group, Cooperativa Spes, owned by his brother and two different kinfolk and pals. Becciu has vehemently denied the claims.

Whereas the prison conspiracy investigation is a separate matter, Diddi mentioned he introduced the proof on the present trial as a result of he believed it was related. He additionally confirmed Vatican judges an announcement by the late bishop of Orzieri, in Sardinia, Sergio Pintor, who claimed that Becciu ran the native charity and diocese “on the household stage.” Diddi additionally introduced Spes monetary paperwork that prosecutors declare had been “falsified.”

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The most recent revelations by prosecutors got here as a long-awaited witness, Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, lastly took the stand on the trial. As soon as a goal of the investigation, Perlasca, who headed the executive workplace of the Vatican Secretariat of State till 2018 and answered on to Becciu, is now a star prosecution witness.

Perlasca’s testimony was riddled with inconsistencies, and he repeatedly claimed to not keep in mind particulars of occasions, which introduced frequent admonishments from head Vatican decide Giuseppe Pignatone in regards to the danger of perjury.

Perlasca advised that Becciu used his affect to have Perlasca fired after he started talking to the Vatican prosecutors. The monsignor admitted to secretly recording Becciu throughout a dinner with him in September 2020 and bringing it to Vatican policemen. “I understood that he was taking part in with me,” he mentioned, “however what he didn’t perceive is that I now not held on his lips, I had already taken my distance from the 11-year-long relationship of dedication and devotion.”

Requested by protection attorneys why he had accused his former superior, Perlasca answered, “as a result of he made me do the issues that he’s charged with as we speak. I needed to clarify that I used to be neither confederate, complicit nor abettor. I obtained concerned within the occasions as a result of he made me do issues I didn’t wish to do.”

Becciu’s authorized group pushed again later when speaking to reporters, saying Perlasca’s testimony doesn’t match the costs towards their shopper.

Perlasca will testify once more on Nov. 30.

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