Nevertheless, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin told CNA Nov. 20 that, contrary to media reports, it was he who had arranged the loan and grant request, and not Becciu, who was his subordinate from 2014 to 2018.
“To an outside observer it is not clear how much is true or put on in this role play between the cardinal secretary of state in office and the one who from 2013 to 2018 was his ‘substitute,’” Magister wrote of that admission.
Leozappa’s Nov. 28 letter did not offer detail about how the controversial loan was actually arranged, or supply a list of Vatican figures involved in the process. Instead, it explained some details about the accounting vehicles by which borrowed money funded the 2015 purchase of the hospital, and confirmed the transfer of funds between the Secretariat of State and the foundation. Becciu was not mentioned in the letter.
Becciu’s letter did not offer details about how the cardinal understood Leozappa’s statement to “exonerate” him. Nor did the cardinal indicate how he confirmed that Leozappa explained with “exact precision” a process in which he says he was not involved.
The cardinal’s letter did, however, address another Vatican scandal to which Becciu has been connected: the Secretariat of State’s investment in a London luxury apartment development.
“The accusation that I did not take into consideration the contrary opinion of Cardinal Pell on the operation of the development of the London apartment is baseless, for the simple reason that the then-Prefect of the SPE [Secretariat for the Economy] was never consulted on the matter, since it was not within his competence to control the accounts of the Secretariat of State. To do that he would have needed the authorization of the pope, something that was never granted to him.”
Becciu was responding to a report that Cardinal George Pell had in 2015 raised questions about a loan obtained by the Secretariat of State to fund its invest in the London property development. Multiple senior sources at the Vatican’s Prefecture for the Economy had told CNA those questions led to a disagreement between Pell and Becciu, an allegation which Becciu’s letter did not directly deny.
In the same letter, Becciu told Magister that he disputed some aspects of CNA’s reporting on that matter, and said CNA had admitted to him that some of its sources were unreliable. CNA has not stated that its sources are unreliable.
The cardinal also sought to distance himself from Msgr. Mauro Carlino, his former secretary, who was suspended after an October raid ordered by Vatican prosecutors.
“To say that I more than others are entered into the eye of a media storm for the fact that Msgr. Carlino was my personal secretary is a simplistic explanation and inconsistent,” Becciu told Magister.
Becciu has been under close media scrutiny for months, as reports from several media outlets have reported on his connections to two emerging financial scandals at the Vatican. The cardinal has consistently denied his involvement in illicit or inappropriate financial activities.
Although the London property development involves multiple holding companies and ambigious funding sources, Becciu has defended the London property deal as “accepted practice.” Parolin characterized it as “opaque,” and Pope Francis said of the transaction this month that unnamed Vatican administrators have “done things that do not seem clean.” The investment remains the subject of a major Vatican investigation.
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