Cardinal fired by Pope Francis says he is innocent
VATICAN CITY – An Italian cardinal who was removed from his powerful post in the Vatican said on Friday that he was accused of embezzlement by Pope Francis and that he denied any wrongdoing. He added that he was ready to lay down his life for the pontiff.
Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu said he had a meeting with the pope on Thursday night when he was removed.
“I was white in the face. Certainly it was not a good moment. It was like a bolt out of the blue,” Becciu said. “He (the pope) was suffering when he told me.”
Based on the information provided by the Vatican and Italian magistrates, the pope demanded the resignation of Becciu who heads the Vatican congregation that decides canonisations.
Becciu also said he would give up his position as cardinal including his right to participate in a conclave to elect a new pope.
He said the pope told him he no longer trusted him.
He is embroiled in a scandal about embezzling Church funds to invest in a luxury building in London.
The disgraced cardinal said that in his earlier role as deputy secretary of state, which came to an end in 2018, he had sent 100,000 euros from Peter’s Pence, a fund meant for charity, to a diocese in Sardinia where he hails from to be used by a group helping immigrants which is headed by his brother.
He also aided the contribution of about 300,000 euros from Italy’s bishops conference for the group.
Becciu said he was also blamed for nepotism while he was the Vatican ambassador in Angola and Cuba where he employed another brother in the carpentry trade to refurbish the embassies.
He said he did not try to make his family rich.
“I am stunned. This is all surreal to me. This is a misunderstanding. I am ready to explain everything to the pope. I have not done anything wrong,” he said.