The powerful head of the Vatican’s saint-making office, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, resigned suddenly 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.”
Becciu, the former No. 2 in the Vatican’s secretariat of state, has been reportedly 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 and it’s not clear whether the scandal, which has convulsed the Vatican for a year, is behind his resignation.
But the late-breaking news of his resignation, the severity of his apparent sanction, the Vatican’s tight-lipped release and the unexpected downfall of one of the most powerful Vatican officials all suggested a shocking new chapter in Francis’ already tumultuous seven-year pontificate.
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.
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