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Powerful Vatican Cardinal Becciu resigns amid scandal

Nicole Winfield
Associated Press

Rome – The powerful head of the Vatican’s saint-making office, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, resigned Thursday from the post and renounced his rights as a cardinal amid a financial scandal that has reportedly implicated him indirectly.

The Vatican provided no details on why Pope Francis accepted Becciu’s resignation in a statement late Thursday. In the one-sentence announcement, the Holy See said only that Francis had accepted Becciu’s resignation as prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints “and his rights connected to the cardinalate.”

In this Feb. 9, 2017 file photo, Mons. Giovanni Angelo Becciu presides over an eucharistic liturgy, at the St. John in Latheran Basilica, in Rome.

Becciu, the former powerful chief of staff in the Vatican’s secretariat of state, has been implicated in a financial scandal involving the Vatican’s investment in a London real estate deal that has lost the Holy See millions of euros in fees paid to middlemen.

The Vatican prosecutor has placed several Vatican officials under investigation, as well as the middlemen, but not Becciu. Becciu has denied all wrongdoing.

The last time a cardinal’s rights were removed was when American Theodore McCarrick renounced his rights and privileges as a cardinal in July 2018 amid a sexual abuse investigation. He was subsequently defrocked altogether by Francis last year for sexually abusing adults as well as minors.

Before him, the late Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien in 2015 relinquished the rights and privileges of being a cardinal after unidentified priests alleged sexual misconduct. O’Brien was, however, allowed to retain the cardinal’s title and he died a member of the college.

In the Vatican statement, the Holy See identified Becciu as “His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Becciu,” making clear he remained a cardinal but just without any rights.

At 72, Becciu would have been able to participate in a possible future conclave to elect Francis’ successor. Cardinals over age 80 can’t vote. But by renouncing his rights as a cardinal, Becciu has relinquished his rights to take part.