August 22, 2022 (Steven O’Reilly) – There comes to strange news today that Cardinal Becciu may be soon ‘reinstated’ by Pope Francis per several news sources. But, first, some background.
Readers may be aware that Cardinal Becciu is currently embroiled in a Vatican trial involving an apparently shady London real estate deal. While the Cardinal’s guilt or innocence has yet to be adjudicated, there is something quite odd about the Becciu affair involving the London deal. It was only when the transaction became public and after international authorities began to act upon it that Pope Francis moved to punish Becciu. Only then did Francis remove Becciu from any office he held in the Church, taking away most if not all the benefits, privileges and duties of being a Cardinal – leaving Becciu a Cardinal in name only. Thus, the appearance is that the hand of Francis was forced by others, i.e., it certainly seems he was motivated by the appearance of things.
Given the punishment inflicted by Francis upon Becciu occurred before the start of the trial, it seems quite clear Pope Francis, at least, seems to have been quite convinced of Becciu’s guilt in 2020. Obviously, Francis must have felt he had sufficient cause to discipline Becciu as he did, again effectively leaving Becciu a Cardinal in name only.
Yet, according to Forbes, five years before this disciplinary action — i.e., circa 2016 — Francis had been given a dossier accusing Becciu of financial corruption, involving “incontrovertible” proof of wrongdoing (see Catholic World Report, Pope Francis and the Cardinal Becciu affair). However, Forbes’ source said Francis “closed the file; that was the end of it.”
If the above is indeed the case, why did Pope Francis allow Becciu to remain in office another four years into 2020? Furthermore, why did Francis not remove Becciu from the Cardinalate altogether, instead of allowing him to retain his title? Yet, as odd as all that is, there is something even more bizarre. Recall, by 2021, Francis had been aware of the accusations against Becciu involving the London real estate deal for about a year, and the 2016 file with “incontrovertible evidence” regarding other potential corruption against Becciu, as reported by Forbes. The bizarre thing is, with the impending trial date approaching, Francis met privately with Becciu at Becciu’s apartment, on Holy Thursday of all evenings! (see Catholic News Agency: Report: Pope Francis celebrates Holy Thursday Mass with Cardinal Becciu).
Now, why would a Pope, on Holy Thursday of all days — when he might be doing “popey” things — be meeting in the private apartment of an essentially ‘indicted’, former member of the Curia who he had disciplined upon the Francis’ assumption of his guilt? Very odd. What happened on that night in Becciu’s private apartment? Did they discuss the case? Did they discuss what Becciu might conceivably say or not say publicly or at trial about Francis? Certainly, the appearance of the meeting does not look good.
These suspicions are not assuaged by today’s news. According to Crux, Cardinal Becciu told a group that: “On Saturday, the pope phoned me to tell me that I will be reinstated in my cardinal duties and to ask me to participate in a meeting with all the cardinals that will be held in the coming days in Rome” (See Crux, Cardinal at center of Vatican trial claims he has been ‘reinstated’ by Pope). In the same Crux article, Cardinal Becciu’s lawyer confirmed the invitation noting also that attendance at consistories is a prerogative of a cardinal, and that Francis has “frozen” these prerogatives with regard to Cardinal Becciu in September of 2020. Yet, Becciu was “summoned” to the consistory. According to a separate Crux article (emphasis added):
“Speaking on background, a Vatican source has said Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu’s apparent invitation to participate in a high-profile meeting of cardinals next week represents a personal gesture on the part of Pope Francis, but that it does not necessarily mean Becciu’s rights as a cardinal, stripped by the pope two years ago, are being restored.”
(Source: Crux, Invite for accused cardinal doesn’t necessarily imply rehabilitation, Vatican source says)
Today’s news certainly has the appearance of a pardon being dangled before Becciu. Allow him some taste of his former privileges; of what he might earn back? The Vatican statement that this “does not necessarily mean” Becciu’s rights are being restored is effectively meaningless because this line can as easily be interpreted to allow that his rights might be restored! But based on what criteria?
If one were to imagine an American president meeting privately with a prominent, criminally indicted, former member of his Administration; and then if he were to publicly dangle reinstatement to the former office before that former official, then these things would certainly give at least the appearance of collusion or obstruction of justice. That Francis did not act on supposed “incontrovertible” proof against Becciu five years before certainly gives rise to a reasonable inference, or suspicion that Becciu just might know something which Francis does not want divulged. But of what? The London deal? Something else?
Are there any other open financial questions?
While more investigation and inquiry is required here, there is clear evidence that money flowed from Argentina to the Vatican, and under questionable circumstances. Henry Sire, in his book The Dictator Pope, writes (emphasis added):
“As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio was ex officio chancellor of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, which had a rich endowment of $200 million. For no clear reason, a large part of this money was transferred to the Vatican Bank. The transaction recalls a scandal years previously when Bergoglio had been auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires and the archdiocese repudiated a debt of ten million dollars, on the grounds that the check issued by the archiepiscopal Curia had not been correctly signed. Austen Ivereigh gives a whitewashing account of this incident, presenting Bergoglio as the reformer who cleaned up the mess, but the truth is that, as Cardinal Quarracino’s right-hand man at the time, he must have had inside knowledge of how the check was issued, and the facts were never satisfactorily explained.”
(Source: Henry Sire, The Dictator Pope, p. 41)
Henry Sire went on to discuss the transfer of the University of Argentina funds in greater detail in an article printed in OnePeterFive website. Mr. Sire, writes (emphasis added):
Between 2005 and 2011, some 40 million dollars were transferred from the Catholic University of Argentina to the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (the Vatican Bank), in a transaction that was supposed to be a deposit but which the IOR has hitherto treated as a donation. (Just this year, the reports are that this misappropriation has begun to be remedied, but only partially.) Pablo Garrido was responsible for this transfer, against the protests of members of the university who pointed out that the university, as an educational foundation, could not make a donation to a foreign bank. Together with the case of the Sociedad Militar Seguro de Vida, this is one of the obscure financial episodes in Archbishop Bergoglio’s administration that deserve to be studied in depth by a qualified researcher.
(Source: Henry Sire, Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires: Some More Unanswered Questions, OnePeterFive, September 11, 2018)
As Mr. Sire’s research suggests, the transfer of $40 million dollars of funds to IOR (the Vatican bank) and which was converted from a deposit to a donation is quite strange. The suggestion by Mr. Sire seems to be that the funds were used to gain influence for Bergoglio in Rome [NB: Roma Locuta Est had discussed this issue in its articles on the Vatileaks scandal, and the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI (see here and here)]. The dates of the transfer begin at a time (2005) when Cardinal Sodano was still Secretary of State (NB: Sodano supported Bergoglio in the 2013 conclave), and end when Archbishop Becciu, now embroiled in a Vatican trial involving financial corruption, was Substitute for General Affairs at the Vatican beginning in 2011 (NB: The office of Substitute is third highest ranking post in the Holy See). It would interesting to inquire of Cardinal Becciu if he has any knowledge of these “donations” and the use to which they were put.
Steven O’Reilly is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology. A former intelligence officer, he and his wife, Margaret, live near Atlanta with their family. He has written apologetic articles and is author of Book I of the Pia Fidelis trilogy, The Two Kingdoms. (Follow on twitter at @fidelispia for updates). He asks for your prayers for his intentions. He can be contacted at StevenOReilly@AOL.com or StevenOReilly@ProtonMail.com (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA or on GETTR, Parler, or Gab: @StevenOReilly).