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Cardinal Becciu defends himself after his brother’s house searched

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Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media for Aleteia - published on 02/19/22

Cardinal Angelo Becciu defends financial aid given to a cooperative run by his brother in Sardinia.

After the February 18 hearing concerning the purchase of a London building and other alleged irregularities, Cardinal Angelo Becciu commented to the media on the recent searches conducted by Italian authorities at the request of the Holy See in the archdiocese of Ozieri and at a cooperative run by his brother in Sardinia. The search, which took place on January 15, “greatly distressed” him, Cardinal Becciu said. It was a “humiliation” for his home diocese.

Cardinal Becciu said he was “proud” to have helped the cooperative run by one of his brothers, pointing out that it employed “60 young men and women who, as the Pope calls them, are the throwaways of society,” including former drug addicts and prisoners. He categorically denied having obtained aid to “favor my family members.”

Becciu further stated that only a transfer of 125,000 euros ($140,000 USD) from the St. Peter’s Pence Fund concerns him. This sum was used, he asserted, to replenish the local Caritas fund and to buy machines for a bakery-cooperative run by his brother that had suffered a fire.

According to Italian journalist Maria Antonietta Calabrò, the searches show that more than 800,000 euros ($905,000 USD) reached Cardinal Becciu’s brother through the Italian Bishops’ Conference and the Institute for the Works of Religion, the Vatican’s private bank. She adds that part of these sums were used for the acquisition of a private apartment in Rome.

The Sardinian prelate is charged in the London building trial with embezzlement, organized abuse of power, and witness tampering. The Vatican court is looking into the role he played in the acquisition of the Sloane Avenue building, but also into other facts unrelated to this operation, in particular this “Sardinian component” which was first mentioned in September 2020 in the Italian weekly L’Espresso.

Next hearing on February 28

The hearing, the seventh since the trial began last July, lasted a total of four hours. The next hearing will take place on February 28, potentially followed by another hearing on March 1, when the last procedural requests for dismissal will be definitively examined.

These, for the most part, concern missing documents in the file. During the hearing, the promoter of justice, Alessandro Diddi, stated that he had only made available the material he had “used.” This statement caused consternation among the defense lawyers, one of whom even spoke of “jurisprudential tourism.”

For his part, Judge Giuseppe Pignatone was once again circumspect about the future of the trial. Referring to the possible start of the interrogations on March 1, he changed his mind for a while, putting a possible “future activity” in the conditional.

Notably, during the hearing the Authority for Supervision and Financial Information (ASIF, formerly AIF) joined the Secretariat of State and the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See as civil parties. Its former president, René Brülhart of Switzerland, and its former director, Tommaso Di Ruzza, are among the 10 defendants in the trial.

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