Thunderclap in the Vatican. Lightning fell with this laconic statement from the Holy See at the end of the afternoon, September 24: “The Holy Father has accepted the renunciation of his office as Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and of his rights related to the cardinalate presented by his eminence Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu. "
LThe surprise resignation of one of the main cardinals of the Curia (direct collaborators of the Pope) is indeed not trivial. Cardinal Becciu is only 72 years old (the canonical retirement age is 75) and appears to be in perfect health. However, not only did Pope Francis accept his resignation at the end of a so-called stormy interview, but he accompanied it with a waiver of “the rights linked to the cardinalate”. In other words, if he remains formally a cardinal, Giovanni Angelo Becciu loses his role of advisor to the sovereign pontiff (especially during a consistory) but also the possibility of electing a new pope during a conclave (a cardinal remains an elector until 'at 80).
Before being created cardinal two years ago by Pope Francis and appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (the dicastery responsible for investigating beatifications and canonizations), Giovanni Angelo Becciu had been for seven years (from 2011 to 2018) substitute for the Secretariat of State of the Holy See. A key post in the Vatican administration, whose function is roughly a mix between that of a secretary general of the Elysee Palace and that of a Minister of the Interior. The substitute for the Holy See is the Pope's trusted man, with whom he is in constant contact. This was the case for Bishop Becciu with Benedict XVI, who had appointed him to this post, then with Pope Francis, until his elevation to the dignity of cardinal in the summer of 2018.
But a year after receiving the bar, Cardinal Becciu was in the hot seat. His name came up in an investigation carried out by the Vatican justice on the purchase of a building in the very select district of Chelsea, in London. The procedure of this purchase accompanied by complex financial arrangements, not to say opaque, was launched in 2014 by Bishop Becciu, then deputy of the Secretary of State, on the grounds, he explained to investigators, that he It was necessary "to make the money from the funds of the Secretary of State work". This internal investigation had already implicated five employees of the Secretariat of State and led, last June, to the arrest of an Italian businessman, since released on bail. But other revelations undoubtedly decided the Pope to "accept the resignation" of Cardinal Becciu. In particular those reported by the Italian weekly L'Espresso to be published next Sunday, according to which the cardinal, originally from Sardinia, favored by endowing it with hundreds of thousands of euros from donations collected by the Italian episcopate and the Holy Headquarters, a cooperative dealing with social integration in Sardinia managed by one of its brothers. Two other brothers of the cardinal would have benefited from targeted "donations", reinvested by the family in unclear financial activities which would have cost "450 million Euros" to the Holy See according to L'Espresso. Cardinal Becciu defends himself against any “embezzlement” by justifying the donations made to businesses run by two of his brothers and by denying the accusations reported by L'Espresso concerning the third brother, a beer brewer.
For Vaticanists, the sign is clear: after tackling questions of morals and in particular pedophilia in the Church, Pope Francis has launched a new battle against financial corruption in the Vatican (the new anti-corruption law entered into force on July 15, 2020). The future will tell if the ousting of Cardinal Becciu will lead the Pope to revise certain measures taken under his inspiration, for example against the Order of Malta, in 2017. Whatever the case may be in this matter, a another cardinal delivered from Australia his feelings on the fall of Cardinal Becciu: “The Holy Father was elected to clean up the finances of the Vatican. He plays for the long term and should be thanked and congratulated for these recent developments. I hope that the cleaning of the stables will continue ”. The signatory of these lines is Cardinal George Pell, former Secretary of the Economy of the Holy See. Called to Rome by Pope Francis precisely to "clean up" the finances of the Church, Cardinal Pell had come up against the Secretariat of State, in other words the substitute Becciu, before being suddenly accused of pedophilia. in his country where he had gone in 2018 to answer in court. Sentenced to six years in prison and imprisoned in February 2019 after a trial considered unfair by many jurists around the world, Cardinal Pell was finally released and released in April 2020 by the High Court of Justice of Australia, the highest court in the country (cf LSDJ n ° 930).
This article is republished from Selection of the day.