Sacked Vatican cardinal Becciu seeking €10m damages

becciu seeking damages

Cardinal Angelo Becciu is seeking €10m (NZ$17m) damages against an Italian media outlet saying the publication ruined his chances of becoming pope.

The Vatican cardinal was sacked by Pope Francis in September, amid a corruption investigation. He is suing Italian news magazine L’Espresso, claiming that by ruining his reputation his chance of becoming pope was destroyed.

Bacciu’s complaint raises questions about the conduct of Vatican criminal prosecutors investigating a corruption case. It suggests they leaked information to L’Espresso about financial irregularities in the Holy See.

Becciu resigned as the prefect of the Vatican’s head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in September after Pope Francis had presented the cardinal with allegations he had sent €100,000 in Holy See funds to a charity controlled by his brother.

Becciu admitted he sent the funds to the charity, not his brother – and told reporters he had done nothing wrong.

To date, he has not been under investigation in that case or any other, Becciu said in a statement announcing the lawsuit’s seeking damages.

In his legal complaint, Becciu claimed that his sacking was a coordinated hit job with L’Espresso.

The magazine broke news of the payment to his brother in a story that went to the printers Sept. 24.

The complaint alleges Francis had a copy of the magazine’s article on his desk during the Sept. 24 meeting at which he sacked Becciu. This suggested an internal leak of the story to the Vatican.

The L’Espresso’s publisher has said some early editions “disappeared” from the printer that night and ended up on the pope’s desk.

The complaint also says that nearly eight hours before Becciu’s 6 p.m. meeting with Francis, L’Espresso created a webpage with an article entitled “This is why Cardinal Becciu resigned.”

Citing the timestamp of the site’s metadata, the complaint argues that the magazine knew about Becciu’s sacking before he did, suggesting coordination with the Vatican.

L’Espresso has been leading the charge against Becciu. It has published a series of unsourced and speculative articles outlining prosecutors’ case against him. Some of them citing unnamed Vatican investigators but others offering no attribution for the magazine’s claims.


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