Cardinal Becciu’s Astonishing Return to Grace

February 19, 2023

Pope Francis granted an official private audience to Cardinal Angelo Maria Becciu, in the midst of a trial on alleged fraudulent investments by the Secretariat of State, of which the Sardinian high prelate is one of the key players. The about-face has taken more than one Vaticanist by surprise, since Cardinal Becciu had been deprived of his prerogatives by the Pope in 2020.

“Yes, I met the Holy Father this morning, we had a very friendly and calm talk; the pope has renewed his esteem and confidence in me, as he has done for a long time.… Each encounter with him is a source of great joy for me.” On February 9, 2023, Cardinal Angelo Maria Becciu could not hide his joy, and for good reason.

How far away that disastrous September 24, 2020 day seems, the day when Pope Francis soured one of the then most powerful porporati of the Curia, several months before the “trial of the century” began in the Vatican, and when the magistrates began to investigate the file concerning the presumed fraudulent investments in the London building by the Secretariat of State. 

Equally astonishing is this form of papal rehabilitation in middle of a full trial this time, when the Vatican court decided to launch a new investigation for “criminal conspiracy” in financial matters against Cardinal Becciu. 

This return to grace took place in stages. In April 2021, the Sovereign Pontiff invited himself to the fallen cardinal’s home to concelebrate Mass in his private oratory.

Five months later, the Pope informed the press of the “esteem” he held for the porporato, praying that the outcome of the trial would be favorable to him.

Finally, in 2022, the former substitute was invited to the Consistory which was held on August 27, the final stage before the audience on the following February 9.

If he were reinstated in all his cardinal prerogatives, Angelo Maria Becciu could participate in a future conclave, given that he is 74 years old, and thus he would enjoy, for a few more years, his right as an elector within the Sacred College.