Dodgy Vatican monsignor forced to return items to churches

A former high ranking official at the Congregation for Clergy has been forced to return objects of value to churches in Turin.

During Msgr Giovanni Carrù’s 20 years as pastor in a Turin parish, many paintings, statues, furniture and other objects were lost and then found in private homes.

Two candelabra ended up being among the possessions of former Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, according to a National Catholic Reporter article by investigative journalist Jason Berry.

These were returned by the cardinal.

The NCR story was based on a report in a Rome daily newspaper.

A special division of the Italian police charged with the protection of cultural heritage had two investigators focused on Msgr Carrù and missing religious property.

Authorities worked with disgruntled parishioners in the monsignor’s native region of Piedmont.

Msgr Carrù is currently secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, a job that oversees the catacombs.

He worked at the Congregation for Clergy between 2003 and 2009, where he was an under-secretary.

Some sources say he got the job courtesy of former Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who also came from Piedmont.

Part of Msgr Carrù’s role was there was to manage correspondence concerning sales of church properties and items of high value, in cases where bishops had to seek Vatican permission.

This saw him involved in a type of insider-trading scheme with an American company, the Follieri Group, the NCR article stated.

During a period when US bishops were closing churches at a rate of more than a one a week, Msgr Carrù was “instrumental” in “identifying prospective churches to buy and resell”.

A vice-president of the Follieri Group at the time was a nephew of Cardinal Sodano.

The NCR article stated Msgr Carrù is considered an unindicted co-conspirator by the FBI for his role in the 2008 criminal scheme to sell American church property.

The Vatican Bank was used to wire payments in the scheme, which saw company founder Raffaello Follieri eventually convicted and imprisoned for five years.

Msgr Carrù was forced to leave the Congregation for Clergy in 2009.


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