SEEMS as if Cardinal Angelo Becciu, above, forced to resign by Pope Francis amid a corruption investigation in the Vatican, fancied his chances of one day becoming a pope.
But, according to the Religion News Service, his hopes of settling his arse in the papal chair were dashed by L’Espresso magazine, the weekly affiliated with Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica.
Right-wing Catholic “news” outlet, Gloria TV, says:
L’Espresso belongs to the anti-Christian Repubblica.it, Francis’ favourite oligarch newspaper, which the Vatican feeds with information.
In a lawsuit launched on Wednesday, Becciu claims the publication ruined his reputation by publishing “unsourced and speculative articles” about alleged dodgy financial dealings, including allegations he had sent some €100,000 euros ($119,000) in Holy See funds to a Sardinian charity controlled by his brother.
He’s demanding €10-million in damages, which he says will go to charity.
Becciu resigned on September 24 as the Prefect of the Vatican’s saint-making office. He was also No 2 in the Vatican Secretariat of State, and enjoyed full authority to manage the department’s substantial asset portfolio, including using it for charitable donations.
In his legal complaint, Becciu claimed that his ousting was a coordinated “hit job” with L’Espresso, which broke the story of the payment to his brother in a story that went to the printers on September 24.
The complaint alleges Francis had a copy of the magazine’s article on his desk during the September 24 meeting at which he sacked Becciu, suggesting an internal leak of the article to the Vatican.
RNS says L’Espresso has been leading the charge against Becciu, with a series of unsourced and speculative articles outlining prosecutors’ case against him, some of them citing unnamed Vatican investigators but others offering no attribution for the magazine’s claims.
Becciu’s ousting came just days before the Vatican began showing off its efforts at greater financial transparency and accountability during a visit by evaluators from the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering committee.
The committee, Moneyval, has faulted the Vatican tribunal in the past for failing to investigate or prosecute alleged financial crimes.
In his complaint, Becciu said the damage to his reputation had harmed him personally as well as the Catholic faithful at large.
As a powerful cardinal with pastoral, diplomatic and Vatican experience, Becciu had been considered “papabile” before his downfall. But the complaint said that by being forced to relinquish his rights as a cardinal, Becciu had lost his chance to one day become pope.
The complaint also said that Becciu’s absence from a future conclave as a voting cardinal “could give rise to questions about the validity of the election,” dividing the church and requiring a costly second conclave.
L’Espresso has stood by its reporting, calling his lawsuit a “stupefying attack.”
In Italy, journalists can be accused of both criminal and civil defamation.
The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Marco Damilano, above, didn’t deny the Pope had an advance copy of its story, but said it was ridiculous to think that “a single journalistic article” caused him to fire Becciu. He said:
L’Espresso is accused of having not only influenced the current Pope but also the Holy Spirit that could have chosen Becciu as his successor, if it weren’t for an article to block his ascent.