Deciding against all odds to go celebrate the Holy Thursday vesperal Mass in the private chapel of Cardinal Angelo Becciu's apartment on April 1, 2021, Pope Francis made an astonishing gesture toward the high prelate who, just six months ago, had been deposed of all his rights.
The cell phone has not stopped ringing: “Angelino is sticking to the silence he has imposed on himself since September 24; when everything is clear, he will speak.” So replys Tonino, the younger brother of Cardinal Angelo Maria Becciu, to his successive interlocutors in his Sardinian-accented voice.
He is handling the communications of the former number two of the Secretary of State, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, deposed in late September 2021 by Francis for his alleged involvement in a financial scandal involving senior officials of the Curia .
Cardinal Becciu's silence has become evocative since Holy Thursday, the day the Argentine pontiff, in a gesture as equivocal as media-driven, concelebrated the vesperal Mass at the residence of the high prelate, while the latter has still not had a hearing with the justice department of the Vatican.
Notably, he is accused of having given the green light, in 2014, to a complex and risky transaction, involving funds allocated to the Secretary of State, with the goal of effecting a financial investment in London that proved to be toxic for the smallest state in the world.
And to say nothing about the corruption rumors, which are being splattered all over the steps of the apostolic palaces, that the Vatican and UK courts are currently investigating.
The mainstream press even went so far as to mention possible misappropriations of funds in favor of a Sardinian cooperative run by Tonino Becciu, and dedicated to helping the poorest: on the island, there is no going back from what is considered to be a barrage of bad faith.
April 1, 2021, 5 p.m. For several hours now, the Vatican’s digital portal has been informing the faithful that Cardinal Giovanni-Battista Re, dean of the Holy College, must unexpectedly replace the sovereign pontiff for the vesperal Mass in St. Peter's.
The white silhouette of Francis appears at the same time on the threshold of the Palais du Saint-Office, a few hundred meters from St. Martha’s House, where the disgraced cardinal resides.
The concelebration began at 5:30 p.m., in the presence of a group of Focolari - a movement from which the cardinal came - and the sisters in his service.
“Angelino was happy and all excited,” Tonino reports, adding, “my brother called me on the phone to give me the good news; he wanted to tell us personally. His Holiness went to his apartment in the afternoon and they celebrated together in Coena Domini. We are all very happy. That’s a really nice thing.”
Vatican Insider - an unofficial channel of communication often used on the side of St. Martha - speaks of an anonymous monsignor who made assurances that the Roman pontiff “took this initiative to show his friendship and closeness” to the high prelate.
It is also said that it was the pope himself who asked Cardinal Becciu to share the astonishing visit. And to confirm in passing a custom inaugurated in 2013: it was on this date that the former substitute of the Secretary of State became accustomed to receive, on Holy Thursday, for a discreet and informal meal, some “Isolated priests” of the diocese of Rome, to whom Francis gladly joined, as a “lost priest in the Vatican.”
Finally, they insist at St. Martha’s on the “numerous and cordial telephone calls and the few visits of the pope to the cardinal in recent months, proof that the pontiff does not want to interrupt their relationship.”
Would the traffic between the Capitol and the Tarpeian rock be two-way? Anything remains possible in the Vatican, even defying the laws of gravity.