Explaining her role in the operations to free Sister Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti, a missionary abducted in Mali, Marogna said Becciu’s claim that Pope Francis green-lighted spending a million euros to free the nun “does not correspond to the truth.”
She said that in addition to the 575,000 euros paid to her, the Secretariat of State also paid the Inkerman Group, a British intelligence firm, approximately 589,000 euros, for a total of 1.16 million euros (around $1.2 million) — not for Sister Gloria’s ransom, but for “management of the case.”
There is no independent corroboration of Marogna’s claims since, according to the defendant herself, “no contract was signed between the companies and the Secretariat of State.”
Marogna said that “there was never a requirement for accountability and an obligation to manage the funds received by the companies on the part of the sender who, like other institutional structures, simply hired corporate entities to carry out certain operational activities of its interest.”
According to Marogna, these activities “should have remained discreet and shielded even within the Secretariat of State’s own administrative management, according to specific orders given by Pope Francis.”
Becciu confirmed in his cross-examination on Thursday that Marogna was brought in to work with the Secretariat of State after she introduced herself to him via email.
The three days of back-to-back hearings concluded on May 20 with the first part of the interrogation of Fabrizio Tirabassi.
Tirabassi was a senior lay official working in the Secretariat of State’s general affairs section from 1987 until his suspension in 2019. From the 1990s on, Tirabassi oversaw the Secretariat’s financial affairs, including investments and movements of the Vatican’s accounts in Swiss banks.
During a cross-examination on Friday, Tirabassi explained the circumstances around the Secretariat of State’s consideration of a proposal in 2012 and 2013 to invest in oil in Angola, and why the idea was eventually abandoned — including that the investment would have been made at the same time that Pope Francis was writing his 2015 environmental encyclical Laudato si’.
The former official underlined that the Secretariat of State had, until a few years ago, its own budget completely separate from the rest of the Roman Curia and not under the supervision of the Secretariat for the Economy.
Tirabassi also provided an explanation for how the Secretariat came to work with Italian businessman Raffaele Mincione, Tirabassi’s co-defendant, who was a top client of the Swiss bank Credit Suisse, also involved in the Angola oil proposal.
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The ex-Secretariat official said that the Vatican did due diligence on Mincione before purchasing from him the building at 60 Sloane Avenue in London, indicating that the Secretariat took about a year to vet the investment manager.
Tirabassi’s defense lawyers issued a brief statement after the hearing in which they praised the “excellent questioning in which our client lucidly explained the reality of the facts: there is no crime behind the Sloane Square affair and there is no rot in the Secretariat of State.”
“The only mystery in this story is why someone wanted to hold a trial in an affair that the Holy See leadership wanted to close with an agreement,” attorneys Massimo Bassi and Cataldo Intrieri said.
Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.