Vatican cardinal suddenly resigns amid suspicion of ‘acts of embezzlement’
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But in a press conference on Friday, Cardinal Becciu said he had stepped down because Pope Francis had asked him to over accusations he had diverted church funds to his family, which he denied.
The Pope says that he no longer has confidence in me because he was told by the magistrates that I had committed acts of embezzlement.
Cardinal Becciu said the Pope had made no mention of the property deal in London’s Chelsea district when he asked him to resign.
“Yesterday until 6:02 p.m. I felt like a friend of the Pope, the Pope’s faithful executor,” he said. “Then the Pope says that he no longer has confidence in me because he was told by the magistrates that I had committed acts of embezzlement. I have not made my family rich, I am ready to sue.”
Cardinal Becciu’s role at the secretariat included administering hundreds of millions of euros of charitable donations to the Church by Catholics around the world. In that position in 2014 he personally authorized a $200m property investment using such funds in a large office building being converted into luxury apartments in Chelsea, in a deal involving an Italian former banker Raffaele Mincione.
Last year Vatican police raided the offices of its own central administration office and seized documents linked to the London investment, and suspended a number of staff who had worked in the secretariat, including Cardinal Becciu’s former secretary.
The Holy See subsequently said it believed the London deal had caused the Vatican significant financial losses, and its police raided the private residence of Alberto Perlasca, a senior official inside the secretariat who had managed the investments under the authority of Cardinal Becciu.