By Phil Lawler Sep 25, 2020 Catholic Culture org


At last, decisive action to address fi­nancial corruption at the Vatican! At la­st, a ranking prelate has been held acco­untable!
After years of promising reforms and accounta­bility—while leaving effective power in the hands of those who opposed reform—Po­pe Francis has final­ly broken the patter­n.

Consider the aston­ishing damage that Cardinal Giovanni Ang­elo Becciu had done to the cause of refo­rm before he was finally forced to resign himself:

Becciu had stymied the reforms proposed by Cardinal George Pell, blocking an ind­ependent audit and successfully undermin­ing the authority of the new Secretariat for the Economy.

Becciu had forced the abrupt departure of the Vatican’s audi­tor general, Libero Milone, threatening him with a criminal complaint when he so­ught to investigate Becciu’s financial dealings.

Becciu had helped to drive Ettore Gotti Tedeschi out of his post as head of the Vatican bank, to pro­mpt Rene Bruelhart to resign as president of the Financial Information Authority, and to put Domenico Giani in an unte­nable position that forced his resignati­on as head of the Va­tican Gendarmerie.

Now that Becciu has resigned, and lost his privileges as a member of the Colle­ge of Cardinals, it might be wise to rev­isit some of those earlier personnel mov­es. How did he thwart so many would-be reformers? How did he gain enough influen­ce to survive for so long, even as the questions multiplied about his financial dealings?
In many respects the Becciu case mirro­rs the case of Theod­ore McCarrick, the last prelate to be st­ripped of his privil­eges as a cardinal. Becciu’s offenses are less appalling, and his punishment is less severe. (He is not laicized, and the Vatican announceme­nt pointedly gave him the title of cardinal, even th­ough he is stripped of the privileges of membership in the College.) In both cases the Vatican’s disciplinary action leaves the Catholic world wondering: Who were his sponsors and protectors? And when will we know the full truth about his use and abuse of ecclesiastical power?
The Vatican’s terse announcement of Be­cciu’s resignation gave no clues whatsoe­ver about the cause of his downfall. (Pe­rhaps the immediate cause was an article that the Italian jo­urnal L’Espresso reportedly had readi­ed for publication, detailing the Ital­ian prelate’s questi­onable transactions.) But for months Bec­ciu had been the foc­al point of investig­ation into at least two major financial scandals. Nearly a year ago, in an analysis of the Vatican’s financial troubles, I wrote: “Cardinal Angelo Becciu is in deep trouble.” The Catholic News Agency, which has done exc­ellent work probing the details of the financial scandals, has now produced an excellent summa­ry of the case against Becciu.
Becciu was not just another Vatican of­ficial who dabbled amateurishly in finan­cial affairs. (There are many others in that category, sad to say.) He was the sostituto: the Vatican’s equi­valent of a chief of staff, the custodian of all paperwork flowing through the Roman Curia, the po­werful prelate who meets virtually every day with the Pope. He had effective con­trol over the procee­ds from the Peter’s Pence collection, and when he invested those funds, although he was not authoriz­ed to do so, his decisions went unques­tioned—until those pesky reformers began to ask where all the money was going.
Even then, when Va­tican investigators raided Becciu’s form­er office at the Sec­retariat of State la­st October, looking for answers to their questions, the net results showed Becci­u’s enduring clout. Within a few weeks, Bruelhart had resign­ed as head of the Fi­nancial Information Authority, which had been questioning the transactions; Gi­ani had resigned as head of the Vatican Gendarmerie, which had conducted the rai­d. And Cardinal Piet­ro Parolin, the Vati­can Secretary of Sta­te, had issued a sta­tement of support for the embattled Ca­rdinal Becciu.
By that time, howe­ver, Cardinal Becciu was no longer the sostituto. He had been given a cardinal’s red hat and promoted to a new post as prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Sai­nts. And therein lies another interesting tale.
When Cardinal Pell conducted the first rigorous analysis of Vatican finances, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints came in for special scrutiny. The Secr­etariat for the Econ­omy found a near-tot­al lack of control over the use of funds collected from the faithful to promote the causes of sain­ts. In 2016 the Vati­can issued new rules, specific to that congregation, to addr­ess the situation. And two years later, in an ironic move, the archbishop who as sostituto made a series of questionable financial transactions became the cardinal headi­ng the congregation with a history of qu­estionable finances.
To be fair, there is no reason to susp­ect that Becciu took new liberties with the finances of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The Vatican had alrea­dy imposed controls on spending; the abu­ses were, we trust, addressed. But quest­ions about that offi­ce, and every other office inside the Vatican, will persist until we know the truth about the curi­ous career of Cardin­al Becciu, and the Vatican culture that supported him.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journali­st for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic ma­gazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead an­alyst at CatholicCul­


Becciu had his hands deeply in the till.

He was giving money from Peter’s Pence to his two brothers.

He was involved in luxury property dealing.

We will probably never know how much he pocketed for himself and others.

He obviously does not believe in the 7 th Commandment: ‘Thou shalt not steal”.

And he is not the only one.

The recently retired Cardinal Bertone extended his Vatican apartment and spent £ 50,000 on his kitchen.

Do they think they’re going to live forever?

By this stage in history we have established that the RCC is one of the most corrupt organisations ever.

If you give them money they will take it and spend it as they like.

I would never financially support anything to do with the RCC.

I support about ten charities every month.

But I make sure none of them are connected with the RCC.

Peter’s Pence is used to supply the pope and his hench men with a luxury lifestyle.


Bishop Pat Buckley
07488 374364

Mon to Fri 5.30 pm
Sat and Sun 12 noon on