An Italian newspaper reported that Vatican prosecutors received allegations that the funds were transferred after Cardinal George Pell returned there to face charges of sexual abuse.
According to an article published today Corriere della Sera, officials of the Secretariat of State have drawn up a file showing numerous bank transfers, including one in the amount of 700,000 euros that Cardinal Becciu’s department sent to an “Australian account”.
The case was presented to Vatican prosecutors ahead of a possible upcoming trial of Cardinal Becciu. Pope Francis accepted his resignation on September 24 and withdrew his cardinal rights, but the Vatican gave no reason for his dismissal. The cardinal denied the allegations against him as “surreal” and “quite a misunderstanding.”
In his article, Corriere della Sera noted that Cardinal Pell, whom the newspaper described as one of Cardinal Becciu’s “enemies,” was forced at the time to return to Australia and tried on charges of sexual abuse. finally apologized.
Corriere della Sera also reported that according to Msgr. Alberto Perlasca – an official of the Secretariat of State who worked under the direction of Cardinal Becciu during the period from 2011 to 2018, when the Cardinal was Secretary of State replace (his deputy secretary of state) – Cardinal Becciu was known for “using journalists and contacts to discredit his enemies.”
“It is precisely in this vein that the payment to Australia would have been made, possibly in connection with Pell’s trial,” the article says.
The newspaper said in the article that it had not received confirmation that Cardinal Becciu was personally responsible for the Australian bank transfer, or who were the beneficiaries of the transaction, and therefore further investigated these issues.
A Vatican source with detailed knowledge of the matter confirmed the contents of the Corriere della Sera report in the register on October 2 and the existence of the wire transfer to Australia. “The year and date of the transfer are recorded in the archives of the Secretariat of State,” the source said.
The funds were “extra-budgetary,” meaning they did not come from regular accounts, and were pointedly transferred for “work to be done” on the Australian nunciature, the source said.
Cardinal Pell returned to Australia in 2017 to stand trial on allegations of sexual abuse at a time when he was making concrete progress on financial reform. Shortly before leaving Rome, he told Pope Francis that the “moment of truth” was approaching in the Vatican’s economic reforms. The cardinal was tried, convicted and jailed in 2019 before all charges against him were overturned by Australia’s High Court earlier this year.
Tensions between Cardinal Pell and Cardinal Becciu have been widely reported. They had strong disagreements over financial management and reform, with Cardinal Pell rapidly pushing for a centralized financial system to promote more control and transparency, and Cardinal Becciu favoring the established system of autonomous dicasterial accounting and more gradual reform.
Cardinal Becciu, whom Pope Francis had trusted and considered a faithful collaborator, was also responsible for the sudden end of the Vatican’s first external audit in 2016 when attention turned to the accounts of the Secretariat of State and the expulsion of the first Vatican Auditor General. , Libero Milone, after inquiring about Swiss bank accounts managed by the Secretary of State.
Mgr. Perlasca, former right arm of Cardinal Becciu when the latter was replace, was widely reported in Italian media as a key figure behind the chain of events that led to the sudden and unexpected dismissal of the cardinal, after Mgr. Perlasca launched a “desperate and sincere appeal for justice,” according to Vaticanist Aldo Maria Valli.
But Cardinal Becciu’s lawyer, Fabio Viglione, said the cardinal “decisively rejects” allegations against him, and what Cardinal Becciu called “imaginary privileged relations with the press used for defamatory purposes against high-ranking prelates ”.
“Since these facts are blatantly false, I have received an express warrant to report libel from any source, in order to protect his [Cardinal Becciu’s] honor and reputation, before the competent magistrates ”, concluded Viglione.
Several sources have said that Cardinal Pell, who returned to Rome on Wednesday, has conducted his own investigation into possible links between Vatican officials and false allegations of sexual abuse against him, and that his findings will also be part of any upcoming hearing.
The register asked the cardinal if he could confirm he had made his own investigation, but declined to comment “at this point.”