Cardinal Angelo Becciu. / Credit: Claude Truong-Ngoc / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Rome Newsroom, Nov 15, 2021 / 09:15 am (CNA).
Speaking at an event for a diocesan charity to which he is alleged to have illicitly given Vatican funds, Cardinal Angelo Becciu said on Sunday that he had “favored” his diocese but questioned why it was considered “scandalous.”
According to the local newspaper La Nuova Sardegna, during a Nov. 14 conference unveiling a new charitable initiative, the cardinal told Caritas members he was “proud, appreciative, happy to have helped you. Where is the scandal?”
Becciu, who was charged this summer with embezzlement and abuse of office by the Vatican, has always denied any wrongdoing. He denied reports last year that he directed Vatican and Italian bishops’ conference money to his brother’s corporation, which works with the local branch of Caritas.
The Caritas office is part of the Diocese of Ozieri, located in the north of the Italian island of Sardinia, where Becciu is from.
The media “accused me of having favored my diocese: it is true, and what is scandalous? I did it as a nuncio in Angola and Cuba, why not here?” Becciu said, according to La Nuova Sardegna.
“What little that I was able to do brought marvelous results: why then create scandals?” he continued.
Speaking at a conference organized by Caritas, he asked: “Why massacre me, my family, this diocese? The media mud that has been created has caused humiliation for all of you, and I deeply regret this.”
Becciu also concelebrated Mass at the Basilica of Sant’Antioco di Bisarcio in Ozieri for the feast of St. Antiochus of Sulcis, one of the first Christian martyrs of Sardinia, together with Ozieri Bishop Corrado Melis.
Becciu and his family are from Pattada, a town in the Diocese of Ozieri, the diocese in which Becciu was ordained a priest in 1972.
One of Becciu’s brothers, Tonino Becciu, is the president and legal representative of Spes Cooperative, a limited liability corporation and the operative arm of the diocesan Caritas.
In 2020, Becciu was accused of using Vatican and Italian bishops’ money toward “loans” for Spes Cooperative.
The Italian weekly L’Espresso reported that Becciu obtained two loans from the Italian bishops’ conference to pay out two non-repayable loans of 300,000 euros [around $340,000] each to Spes Cooperative in 2013 and 2015.
In 2018, it reported, Becciu gave a third sum to Spes Cooperative of 100,000 euros [about $114,000] from Peter’s Pence, of which he had control as the then second-ranking official at the Secretariat of State.
Around the same time as the news report about Spes Cooperative was published in September 2020, Pope Francis asked Becciu to give up the rights extended to members of the College of Cardinals, and to resign as prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.
In June, Italian financial police carried out searches at the offices of Spes Cooperative, Caritas, and the Diocese of Ozieri on behalf of Vatican prosecutors.
Becciu was indicted the next month on charges of embezzlement and abuse of office. He is one of 10 defendants in the Vatican’s largest financial trial in recent history. The trial, which centers around the Secretariat of State’s purchase of an investment property in London, started at the end of July. The next hearing is expected to be on Nov. 17.
At the Nov. 14 event, Becciu accused the media of covering his family, his brother Tonino, and the employees and volunteers of Caritas “with slander,” adding that “a trial is underway in which I will defend myself and where I will demonstrate that they are slander.”
“They have attributed to me accounts in tax paradises, but the Paradise I know is something else,” he continued. “They accused me of paying witnesses, but it is all false, these are accusations that I reject and I will prove it.”
“But today we will not think about this, today we must be happy because today is a day of celebration,” he said.