In April 2021, Pope Francis invited Cardinal Becciu to celebrate Holy Thursday Mass with him in the chapel of Becciu’s private apartment — a move some thought to mean the pope was going to reinstate the cardinal’s privileges.
But sources close to the Vatican said afterward that the visit was pastoral, not a reinstatement.
3. Becciu goes to court
In summer 2021, Vatican prosecutors formally charged Becciu and nine other defendants in the so-called Vatican “trial of the century” after a two-year investigation.
Since July 27, 2021, the cardinal has been on trial on charges of embezzlement, money laundering, fraud, extortion, and abuse of office.
The trial marks the first time a cardinal is tried by lay judges in the Vatican court.
In early 2021, Pope Francis changed Vatican law to allow cardinals to be tried by the city state's court and not only by a special tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.
A little over a month after the trial's start, the pope told Spanish broadcaster COPE he hoped “with all my heart” that Cardinal Becciu is proven innocent.
“Besides, he was a collaborator of mine and helped me a lot. He is a person for whom I have a certain esteem as a person, that is to say, that my wish is that it turns out well,” Francis said.
The cardinal has consistently denied all wrongdoing.
4. Participating in consistories?
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This week Cardinal Becciu said he would participate in the extraordinary consistory of cardinals taking place Aug. 29-30, and in the ordinary consistory to create new cardinals on Aug. 27, after receiving a phone call from Pope Francis.
Becciu announced the news during a private Mass on Aug. 21 celebrated in Golfo Aranci in his native Sardinia, where he was on vacation.
It appears to possibly be a reintegration of the cardinal privileges of Becciu, who has not participated in a consistory since his resignation on Sept. 24, 2020.
Taking part in consistories is part of the rights and prerogatives of a cardinal, as outlined in canons 349, 353, and 356 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law.
The rights described in Canon 349 include the participation in the election of a pope as a cardinal elector and assisting the current pope in the work of the daily care of the universal Church.
Canon 353 addresses a cardinal’s ability to take part in ordinary and extraordinary consistories, while Canon 356 states that cardinals are bound to actively collaborate with the pope, requiring them to live in Rome unless they hold the position of a diocesan bishop.