Vatican City – One of the most senior cardinals in the Catholic Church unexpectedly resigned from his post at the Vatican on September 24, with the city-state giving no explanation for the dismissal.
In a surprise bulletin late in Rome, the Vatican said the Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu had both given up his positions as office manager in charge of overseeing Catholic sanctity and renounced “the rights attached to the cardinalate.”
The bulletin gave no further details, but it is extremely rare for a cardinal to take such a step. The last cardinal to renounce the rights of the cardinalate was the Scottish Cardinal Keith O̵
Becciu has been the head of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints since August 2018. He previously worked in the Vatican State Secretariat, in a role often referred to as the Pope’s chief of staff.
In that earlier role, Becciu had allegedly been linked to a controversial deal in which the Vatican invested in a development project in London.
The Vatican police have been investigating the deal for months. In October 2019, they carried out a highly unusual raid on the offices of the State Secretariat, collecting documents and electronic devices believed to be related to the business.
In the terse statement by the Vatican on September 24, it was only said that Pope Francis had accepted Beccius’ resignation from office and accepted the rights of the cardinalate. It seems to suggest that Becciu remains a cardinal only in the title and cannot participate in future conclaves.
The Vatican press office did not immediately respond to a request for more information on the reasons for Beccius’ resignation or for clarity about his status as cardinal.
Becciu has previously denied all allegations of the inappropriateness of the London real estate business, which has been described by Italian media as an opportunity to make a profit on upgrading office space to luxury apartments.
“A building has been invested,” said the cardinal in February. “It was a good and favorable opportunity that many people today envy us for.”
Becciu had previously been a Vatican diplomat who served under Pope John Paul II as the ambassador of the city-state in Angola and under Pope Benedict XVI. Acted as ambassador to Cuba. The future cardinal began his activity in the State Secretariat of the Vatican, where he worked in 2011 as deputy for general affairs.
Francis appointed Becciu a parish of saints in May 2018 and made him cardinal in June 2018. In his role in the Office of Saints, Becciu directed the canonizations of a number of prominent figures, including the Martyr Archbishop Oscar Salvero.
This is breaking news.[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]