ROME – The bizarre case of a top Vatican cardinal who Pope Francis sacked in September has just taken a Machiavellian turn that would make Dan Brown proud.
Giovanni Angelo Becciu, former Vatican Secretary of State and, until recently, head of the Holy See’s wing of the Holy See, has been accused of channeling some $ 800,000 of the Pope’s charity money to Australia to buy false testimony against his rival, Cardinal George Pell. , while on trial for sexually abusing choir boys in Australia more than 30 years ago.
Becciu categorically denies any wrongdoing, releasing a statement on Monday in which he said: “I categorically deny any interference in Cardinal Pell’s trial.”
Pell, who mysteriously returned to Rome last week despite Australians being banned from traveling abroad, was first convicted in 2018 and then acquitted of sexual abuse by clerics in April, after which It was called the “cathedral trial” because the alleged crimes occurred in April. Melbourne’s main basilica. The trial in which he was acquitted came after a jury suspended on the same case. A subsequent lawsuit that involved charges that Pell grabbed the genitals of young boys at a public swimming club, known as the “swimmers trial,” was dropped when Pell was convicted.
Pell left Rome in 2017 when he was the Pope’s main financial czar as head of the Secretariat of the Economy. The Pope never removed him from office, even after his conviction, but the term expired in 2019 and Pell’s term was not renewed. The role has not been filled since.
It was during this time, as Vatican No.3, that he first accused Becciu – who was then Vatican Secretary of State and therefore Church No.2 – of financial irregularities linked to bad loans, a property in Sloane Square in London, and mysterious money transfers from the papal charity known as Peter’s Pence to his brother in Sardinia.
At the time, Pell ordered an audit of the Holy See’s financial discrepancies, which was interrupted by Becciu, who was Pell’s superior. It is not known what Pope Francis said as Becciu removed his rank to stop the audit.
Over the weekend, Italian newspapers received leaked summaries of what is being reported as the Vatican’s internal investigation into Becciu’s alleged crimes. The leaks imply Becciu is under investigation for funneling around $ 800,000 to conservative groups in Australia intended to buy hostile testimony against Pell in his pedophile trial. Pell was sentenced unanimously in February 2019 for assaulting two former choir boys in a cathedral while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s. His conviction was overturned in April after an appeals court concluded that the testimony was lacking.
The Italian leaks also refer to a 39-year-old woman named Cecilia Morogna, who is described as Becciu’s niece and allegedly involved in some of the transfers. But investigative leaks imply that Morogna is not a relative of Becciu at all and is in fact part of a Freemasonry Roosevelt movement. Grainy photos published in the newspapers suggest that she was seen several times in the company of the cardinal in Rome.
On Monday in Melbourne, a lawyer representing the main witness in the lawsuit against Pell categorically denied receiving any money for his testimony. Viv Waller represents the alleged victim, whose name has not been made public due to confidentiality concerns related to allegations of child sexual abuse. She said her client’s testimony was genuine. “My client denies knowing or receiving any payments,” she told reporters in Melbourne. “He will not comment further in response to these allegations.”
Instead, Pell’s Australian lawyer Robert Richter insisted that these allegations of paid testimony be investigated. “They relate to allegations and require a full investigation into the money trail anywhere,” he said Monday.
The Vatican has not commented on the latest allegations beyond confirming that its investigation into Becciu and, finally, six others is continuing in secret.
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