Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]
February 9, 2023
By Hannah Brockhaus
Pope Francis met at the Vatican Thursday morning with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who is on trial for charges related to Vatican finances.
The meeting appeared on the top of Pope Francis’ list of official audiences for Feb. 9, published by the Vatican every day at noon Rome time.
The editors of the news aggregation website Il Sismografo called the official nature of the meeting “puzzling” given that the pope and the cardinal have been in contact other times since Becciu’s fall from grace in 2020.
Becciu served as “sostituto,” or second-ranking official at the Secretariat of State, from 2011 to 2018, when Pope Francis named him a cardinal and made him head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Since July 2021, Becciu has been on trial in the Vatican on several finance-related charges. The trial centers on the Secretariat of State’s purchase of a London building, a controversial investment that lost the Vatican hundreds of thousands of euros. It also marks the first time a cardinal has been tried by a Vatican court of lay judges.
The 74-year-old cardinal has also been accused of using Vatican funds to help a charity run by his brother, an allegation that made waves when it was published in a major Italian newspaper in September 2020.
According to Becciu, Pope Francis referenced the accusation when he asked him to give up his Vatican job and relinquish the rights and privileges of a cardinal on Sept. 24, 2020.
Since that day, the disgraced cardinal has insisted on his innocence of all the charges.
Pope Francis has also expressed a hope in Becciu’s innocence, saying in a September 2021 interview that Becciu “is a person for whom I have a certain esteem as a person, that is to say that my wish is that he turns out well … In any case, justice will decide.”
Five months prior, in April 2021, the pope had celebrated a private Mass in the chapel in Becciu’s apartment for Holy Thursday.
More recently, the cardinal participated in Pope Francis’ Aug. 27, 2022, public consistory to create new cardinals and an Aug. 29-30 meeting of cardinals.
They were the first consistories Becciu had participated in since stepping down in September 2020.
According to the cardinal, Pope Francis had called him on Aug. 20 “to tell me that I will be reinstated in my cardinal functions.”
Becciu took the stand for the first time in the Vatican finance trial on May 5, 2022.
He is charged with embezzlement, money laundering, fraud, extortion, and abuse of office.