Pope approved secret €1m bid to free kidnapped nun, says disgraced cardinal
The Pope approved a secret €1m operation to free a Colombian nun kidnapped in Mali, a disgraced cardinal has claimed.
Reuters The Pope has lifted the cardinal's oath of secrecy so he could answer questions at trial
Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez was seized by the Macina Liberation Front, an al Qaeda-linked group, in February 2017 and released last year.
Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who is one of ten defendants on trial accused of corruption, claimed Pope Francis authorised the bid to free her after being told it would cost €1m (£856,000) at most and involve a ransom and setting up a "contact network".
Reuters Cardinal Angelo Becciu was sacked by the Pope in 2020
"He approved. I must say that every phase of that operation was approved by the Holy Father," Becciu, 73, told a Vatican court on Thursday.
The cardinal also denied having improper relations with a 41-year-old Italian woman - nicknamed the "cardinal's lady" by Italian media - who acted as intermediary in the operation.
Becciu said Cecilia Marogna, who is also a defendant, had put him in touch with a London-based risk and intelligence firm in 2018.
A special account was set up and payments made to accounts specified by Marogna, he said.
The London firm made contact with the kidnappers, according to the cardinal, but he did not confirm if a ransom was eventually paid.
The deal was kept secret, even from the Vatican's head of security, because there were fears a leak would have "endangered the lives and safety of other missionaries", he told the court.
Becciu, the Vatican's deputy secretary of state between 2011 and 2018, is accused of aiding embezzlement, abuse of office and inducing a witness to perjury. He denies the charges.
Pope Francis sacked Becciu as the Vatican's saint-making chief two years ago, accusing him of nepotism in favour of his brothers - a charge he also denies.
Two months ago, he lifted the cardinal's oath of secrecy so he could answer questions at the trial.
Marogna is charged with embezzling €575,000 from the Vatican's secretariat of state.
Prosecutors claim she used if for personal benefit, including buying luxury goods. She also denies any wrongdoing.
The cardinal told the court his relationship with her had been "distorted, with offensive insinuations" that are "harmful to my priestly dignity".
Most of the trial centres on the secretariat's purchase of a London building as part of a €350m investment that went bad, ending with a €217m loss.
Two Italian brokers have been charged with extortion, while other defendants include ex-Vatican staff and officials connected with the deal. They all deny any wrongdoing.
The trial continues.
- ‘Hitler’s pope’ struck dirty deal with Nazi prince to stay silent on persecution of Jews
- Prince Andrew is trying to 'make amends', Archbishop of Canterbury says
- Pope Francis reveals the drink that helps him battle knee pain
- Warning dangerous dupe of Zamzam holy water could be on sale in Leicester
- What it's like to be an Orthodox Jew in the UK today
- Why is Friday the 13th considered unlucky?
- Sacked church charity worker awarded £8,000 after dispute over ‘priest's affair’
- Church elder who stole woman's £600,000 ordered to pay back just £1
- Pope approved secret €1m bid to free kidnapped nun, says disgraced cardinal
- Ramadan 2022: Thousands joined by mayor for Iftar in Trafalgar Square for last week of fasting
- Three Scientology defectors sue church leader David Miscavige
- Caste pervasive across Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and other faiths
- Vatican suspends Jerusalem meeting between pope, Russian patriarch
- French nun Sister Andre, 118, claims title of world's oldest person
- St George's Day 2022: He wasn't England's first patron saint and 8 other facts
- Sweden hit by fourth day of unrest over planned Quran burnings
- Pope condemns Russia for ‘cruel and senseless’ invasion of Ukraine in sermon on ‘Easter of War’
- Archbishop of Canterbury hits out at Government plan to send migrants to Rwanda
- Those in public life should act with integrity, Archbishop of York suggests
- Royal Maundy Service explained as Queen misses it for first time in 52 years
- Let There Be Light
- Plants that feel and Speak
- The Singing Forest
- The Singing Forest-2
- Using Essential Oils for Spiritual Connection
- Heaven Scent
- Plants that Feel and Speak-2
- Making the Spiritual Connection
- The Sanctity of Plants
- The Aroma Of Worship - Introduction
- Essential Oils: The unseen Energies
- The Aroma Of Worship-Foreward
- Methods Of Use
- Handling and Storage
- Spiritual Blending