The financial scandal that toppled Cardinal Angelo Becciu, one of the Vatican's most powerful officials, mounted Friday with evidence that he directed hundreds of thousands of euros of Vatican and Italian church funds to a charity controlled by his brother.
Last year Vatican police raided the offices of its own central administration office and seized documents linked to the London investment, and suspended a number of staff who had worked in the secretariat, including Cardinal Becciu's former secretary.
"I am innocent, and I will prove it".
"I don't know if I'm being investigated, but if they send me a process, I will defend myself", he said, adding that he accepted the pope's request to resign "In the spirit of obedience and for the love that I have for the Church and for the Pope", but insisted that he did no wrong.
"That money is still there and wasn't given to my brother's cooperative".
It offered no elaboration on the sudden and rare move by Becciu, who was head of the Vatican's saint-making office and a close aide to Pope Francis, per the BBC. In a one-sentence announcement, the Holy See said only that Francis had accepted the cardinal's resignation as prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints "and his rights connected to the cardinalate".
The New York Times notes that because the terms "eminence" and "cardinal" appeared in the statement, it appears Becciu will hold onto his title, even though it also suggests he won't get a vote in the next conclave, when the next pope is picked.
Cardinal Becciu said the Pope had made no mention of the property deal in London's Chelsea district when he asked him to resign.
The cardinal had defended the soundness of the original investment and denied any wrongdoing, and it was not clear whether the scandal itself was behind his resignation or possibly sparked a separate line of inquiry.
© Provided by Associated Press Cardinal Angelo Becciu talks to journalists during press conference in Rome, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. "He plays a long game and is to be thanked and congratulated on recent developments", Pell said, adding, "I hope the cleaning of the stables continues in both the Vatican and Victoria", the latter referring to his home state in Australia.
Becciu said that "Pope Francis suffered" when giving him the news of his effective dismissal during their 20-minute meeting on Thursday.
He admitted that while sostituto he ordered that a sum of 100,000 euros (just over $116,000) be given to the local Caritas branch in his home diocese of Ozieri in 2017, drawing on the Pence fund, arguing that this was not meant as a favor, but to go toward a "charitable" goal. "I will never betray him". "So I don't know why I am accused of embezzlement", he said. Vatican sources said they expected Vatican magistrates to hand down indictments soon. Becciu's family added in a statement released on Friday that "no sum has been proven to be given by Peter's Pence", which is collected from the faithful for the poor, and that the money received was destined only for charitable means. While Becciu was in that post in 2018, some 100,000 euros - about $116,000 - in church funds ended up in the coffers of SPES, a diocesan branch of the Catholic charitable organization Caritas that is run by the cardinal's brother, Tonino Becciu.