The cardinal has retained the title but ceased to be a member of the Vatican dicasteries to which he was assigned and did not participate in the meetings of the cardinals.
Since Sept. 24, 2020, Cardinal Becciu has no longer participated in any consistory.
Therefore, the reinstatement would only concern the cardinalate functions, not the reintegration into the roles previously held by Becciu. When the cardinal left, he was prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the pope’s special delegate for the Order of Malta. These assignments will not be re-entrusted to him, at least while the corruption trial is underway.
Becciu first gave the news of his reintegration during an Aug. 21 Mass he celebrated in Sardinia, where he is on vacation. The cardinal said the pope called him on Aug. 20.
“On Saturday, the pope rang me to tell me that I will be reinstated in my cardinal functions and to ask me to participate in a meeting with all the cardinals to be held in the next few days in Rome. For this reason, next Sunday I will not be able to be present at Mass since I am busy in Rome,” Becciu said.
The reintegration of Becciu into his cardinal functions does not mean, however, a full rehabilitation by Pope Francis, who still wants the trial in the Vatican to take its course.
The pope visited Becciu on Holy Thursday 2021 and celebrated the Eucharist in his house, but this did not prevent the cardinal from going to trial.
Becciu did, however, spread the news of the papal visit in 2021, and the information was not officially confirmed in a statement by the Holy See Press Office — though it was reported on Vatican News.
Becciu is the first cardinal to be tried by a Vatican court, after Pope Francis, with a motu proprio of April 30, 2021, decided that the court could also charge cardinals. Previously, cardinals could only be tried by the highest Vatican court, the Apostolic Signatura, which comprises two cardinal members and a president. In practice, cardinals could previously only be judged by their peers.
Andrea Gagliarducci is an Italian journalist for Catholic News Agency and Vatican analyst for ACI Stampa. He is a contributor to the National Catholic Register.