Pow­er­ful Vat­i­can Car­di­nal Bec­ciu re­signs amid scan­dal

No de­tails pro­vided as to why Pope Fran­cis ac­cepted the res­ig­na­tion.


ROME — The pow­er­ful head of the Vat­i­can’s saint­mak­ing of­fice, Car­di­nal An­gelo Bec­ciu, re­signed sud­denly Thurs­day from the post and re­nounced his rights as a car­di­nal amid a fi­nan­cial scan­dal that has re­port­edly im­pli­cated him in­di­rectly.

The Vat­i­can pro­vided no de­tails on why Pope Fran­cis ac­cepted Bec­ciu’s res­ig­na­tion in a state­ment late Thurs­day. In the one-sen­tence an­nounce­ment, the Holy See said only that Fran­cis had ac­cepted Bec­ciu’s res­ig­na­tion as pre­fect of the Con­gre­ga­tion for the Causes of Saints “and his rights con­nected to the car­di­nalate.”

Bec­ciu, the former No. 2 in the Vat­i­can’s sec­re­tariat of state, has been re­port­edly im­pli­cated in a fi­nan­cial scan­dal in­volv­ing the Vat­i­can’s in­vest­ment in a London real es­tate deal that has lost the Holy See mil­lions of eu­ros in fees paid to mid­dle­men.

The Vat­i­can pros­e­cu­tor has placed sev­eral Vat­i­can of­fi­cials un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, as well as the mid­dle­men, but not Bec­ciu. Bec­ciu has de­fended the sound­ness of the orig­i­nal in­vest­ment and de­nied any wrong­do­ing, and it’s not clear whether the scan­dal it­self was be­hind his res­ig­na­tion or pos­si­bly sparked a sep­a­rate line of in­quiry.

But the late-break­ing news of his res­ig­na­tion, the sever­ity of his ap­par­ent sanc­tion, the Vat­i­can’s tightlippe­d re­lease and the un­ex­pected down­fall of one of the most pow­er­ful Vat­i­can of­fi­cials all sug­gested a shock­ing new chap­ter in the scan­dal, which has con­vulsed the Vat­i­can for the past year.

The last time a car­di­nal’s rights were re­moved was when Amer­i­can Theodore Mccar­rick re­nounced his rights and priv­i­leges as a car­di­nal in July 2018 amid a sex­ual abuse in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He was sub­se­quently de­frocked al­to­gether by Fran­cis last year for sex­u­ally abus­ing adults as well as mi­nors.

Be­fore him, the late Scot­tish Car­di­nal Keith O’brien in 2015 re­lin­quished the rights and priv­i­leges of be­ing a car­di­nal af­ter uniden­ti­fied priests al­leged sex­ual mis­con­duct. O’brien was, how­ever, al­lowed to re­tain the car­di­nal’s ti­tle and he died a mem­ber of the Col­lege of Car­di­nals, the elite group of church­men whose main job is to elect a pope.

In the Vat­i­can state­ment, the Holy See iden­ti­fied Bec­ciu as “His Em­i­nence Car­di­nal An­gelo Bec­ciu,” mak­ing clear he re­mained a car­di­nal but with­out any rights.


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