Cardinal Angelo Becciu, one of the most powerful Vatican cardinals, has resigned on Thursday from the saint-making office and also renounced his rights as a cardinal amid a financial scandal that has reportedly implicated him indirectly.
According to the reports, Becciu, who was one of the most powerful in the Vatican’s secretariat of state, has been implicated in a financial scandal involving the Holy See’s investment in a London real estate deal that resulted in a loss of millions of euros for the Vatican.
Reportedly, Cardinal Becciu had caught up in a real estate scandal, which has now led to his resignation from the powerful position in the Vatican Church. The cardinal has also given up his right to take part in an eventual conclave to elect a pope. The resignation is being said as one of the most mysterious episodes to hit the Vatican in years.
“The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and from the rights connected to the Cardinalate, presented by His Eminence Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu,” a one-line statement late on Thursday said.
The last cardinal to give up that right of electing a pope was Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of USA, who had resigned over a sex scandal in 2018.
Becciu has worked for the last six years as the Substitute for General Affairs, a role akin to the secretary of state, one of the most powerful positions in the Vatican chief of staff. The 72-year-old was elevated as Cardinal in 2018 and also had responsibility for the department that oversees beatifications and sainthoods.
Meanwhile, the Vatican prosecutor has placed several Vatican officials under investigation. However, it is yet to start a probe to unearth Becciu’s role in the scandal. Becciu has defended the original investment and denied any wrongdoing.
Vatican financial scandal
In October 2019, we had reported on the alleged financial scandal linked to the Vatican. The scandal had surfaced after an investigation was launched to know how $200 million worth of charity funds parked in Swiss Bank accounts ended up financing a luxury property development in London’s upscale Chelsea district that generated large profits for a company that managed the investment for the Holy See.
The project to construct 49 luxury apartments at 60 Sloane Avenue was under the scanner of the Church officials after funds worth $200 million held in Swiss bank accounts controlled by the Secretariat of State was transferred to a Luxembourg investment fund called Athena Capital. The Vatican is said to be engaged in the project since 2014.
After suspecting financial irregularities, an investigation was launched by Vatican police and raids were conducted at the offices of the Holy See’s Secretariat of State and its Financial Information Authority or AIF.
At that the time of investment, Cardinal Becciu was the in charge of the administrative duties of the Secretary of State, the second-ranking official from 2011-18 and reported on a daily basis to Pope Benedict and later Pope Francis.