Now that’s a headline one does not expect to read. A combination of words that seems beyond the realm, as it were. Nonetheless, the Vatican is a country and can indict, pardon, and fire as it sees fit. New York Times, July 4, 2021, p. A10.
Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, the former chief of staff for the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, was indicted, along with nine others, for money laundering, fraud, and abuse of office. It seems the Vatican investment in some real estate in London’s Chelsea neighborhood went south. The building had been a Harrods Department Store showroom but was to be turned into luxury apartments. Dreams turned to dust, and the Vatican lost about 350 million Euros in the deal. Turns out that the broker involved has refused to turn over title to the building the Vatican thought it bought. Business risk is inevitable but a broker purloining a building from the Catholic Church is something more than a risk. “Multiply it by infinity, and take it to the depth of forever, and you will still have barely a glimpse of what I’m talking about,” to quote Joe Black, aka Death.
Already, Pope Francis has stripped Cardinal Becciu of his employment as “head of the Vatican’s saint-making department.” The Barometer does not know the qualifications for heading up such a unit, but being under indictment would surely call Cardinal Bicciu’s credentials into question.
All have denied wrongdoing. Cardinal Bucciu, through his lawyer, maintains “absolute innocence.” He was also charged with embezzlement. Another Vatican employee who was charged with abuse of office said the indictment was a “procedural blunder.” He may not get that whole “multiply by infinity” thing either.