A cardinal’s resignation is rare. But now one of the Pope’s closest associates is leaving. The move is reportedly related to a real estate scandal.
Cardinal Angelo Becciu has resigned as Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Saints and Beatitudes. He also waives his rights as a cardinal. The Vatican press service announced this unusual move by a top executive of the Catholic Church on Thursday. No reason was given for the 72-year-old Italian’s withdrawal. Italian media linked the move to a scandal over an investment by the Vatican in a luxury property in central London. The message only said that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation Thursday.
Such a cardinal resignation is very rare. At first, it wasn’t entirely clear whether Becciu would at least keep the title, if not the rights. According to experts, a dismissal from this status within the church is generally not planned. When asked about his withdrawal, the former church diplomat of the Italian news agency Adnkronos said only, “I’d rather keep quiet.”
In a previous position at the Secretariat of State, the Vatican’s central bureaucracy, Becciu oversaw the controversial real estate sector. Vatican prosecutors have been investigating it for some time now. In June, investigators arrested Gianluigi Torzi, a London-based Italian financier. He reportedly acted as the go-between when the Vatican tried to take full control of the property. Torzi, who denies any wrongdoing, has been charged with extortion, embezzlement, serious fraud and money laundering. He was released on bail a few days later.