Status: 07/27/2021 5:50 AM.
It’s a historic criminal trial: for the first time ever, a cardinal is sitting on the docks of the Vatican – next to pimps and church officials. The charges range from embezzlement and extortion to abuse of office.
It is September 2020: Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Bacchiu is urged by Pope Francis to resign, shortly after the press’s troubles are explained. It feels “great sadness,” he says, but there is always sadness with priests and cardinals. He takes it as a “test” – and “Hope everything clears up sooner or later”.
Nothing like this ever happened at the Vatican: a senior employee not only lost his job as head of the Congregation for canonization, but also had to relinquish his rights as a cardinal, including the election of a pope. And then he goes public with it. As the first cardinal in the church’s history, Bekiu, now 73, has to answer before the Vatican Court.
For Vatican expert Iacopo Scaramuzzi, it is a process that is targeting the entire system of finance for the first time: “This process can be seen as a result, but also as part of the financial reform that Benedict XVI introduced. started and Francis pushed forward.”
fight against nepotism
For many years, the Secretariat of State managed the Curia money pots, and late last year the Pope handed them over to the APSA asset management team. A few months later, Francis changed the law of criminal procedure, since then even cardinals could be sentenced by ordinary people. And it heralds a cultural change, Scaramuzzi says. “Pope Francis passed a series of laws that hit the real point: nepotism.”
It is about assignments, job assignments, gifts that bishops and cardinals can receive. “It is true that the history of the Vatican is replete with great, famous financial scandals. But all this is possible because there is fertile ground for these scandals – nepotism.”
Nine men and one woman are now in the dock. He is a Swiss lawyer and financial expert, as well as a Roman banker and former director of the Vatican Financial Supervisory Authority. And of course Becciu, who for many years held an important position in the State Secretariat as a substitute.
Under him, Curia invested several hundred million euros, including a luxury property in the Chelsea, London district. Above all, the deal brokers made a lot of money, the Vatican itself lost millions. Part of the money came from the so-called Petersfennig, which is intended for charitable purposes.
Vatican Bank advertises
In autumn 2019, the gendarmerie in the Papal States comes out in the middle of the night and leads a great raids in the State Secretariat and Financial Supervision. Shortly after, Francis acknowledged the scandal for the first time: “What happened is what happened. A scam! You did something that doesn’t seem obvious.”
Embezzlement, money laundering, fraud, extortion, forgery and abuse of office – the charges before the criminal court are anything but Christian. According to journalist Scaramuzzi, for the first time parts of the Vatican are being prosecuted in the Vatican. “This time the so-called Vatican Bank filed a complaint,” he explains. “She had become suspicious of an unreasonable request for an amount. Therefore, she called on the Vatican auditors and the judiciary to delve more deeply into the matter.”
Many observers are already describing the mega-process as historic. It remains to be seen how much light he can actually shed on the dark conspiracies of the Vatican’s financial system.
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