The Shadow of the Pope Looms Over the Becciu Trial

November 30, 2021
Pope Francis in Thailand

In the Vatican, the trial on the suspected dubious financial transactions by the Secretary of State has resumed. During the last hearing, a new heated exchange took place between the prosecutor and the defense. At issue: the role played by Pope Francis in the affair.

“We have to take more time before we can really get to the heart of the matter. If we ever succeed…” The perplexed tone of the fourth hearing of the trial concerning the use of the funds by the Secretariat of State is set for November 17, 2021, by Giuseppe Pignatone, the president of the tribunal of the Holy See.

However, the trial seemed to have finally gotten back on track at the beginning of the month: on November 3, in fact, Alessandro Diddi, the promoter of justice, finally handed over to the court the recordings of the testimony of the key witness of the case, Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, former office manager for the first section of the Secretariat of State.

Alas! It quickly became clear that the recordings had been cut in several places: as many alterations as Alessandro Diddi could justify “in the name of the current investigation.”

But it didn’t matter that the defense for the six accused, including Cardinal Angelo Maria Becciu, shouted out: “you are mutilating the exhibits,” the lawyer of the former deputy of the Secretary of State, Me Fabio Viglione, launched against the promoter of justice

Anyway, the recordings provided to the court gave the defense the matter to file once again for the annulment of the whole procedure: the key witness, questioned by Alessandro Diddi indeed affirms that the Pope Francis himself had given the green light to questionable transactions with the broker Gianluigi Torzi, who has been accused of having extorted from the Holy See the tidy sum of fifteen million euros in the case of the London building.

On the recording, Alessandro Diddi then interrupted Msgr. Perlasca: “that is not what the Holy Father says,” the promoter of justice claimed.

A “little phrase” that was too much for the defense: Luigi Panella in fact deduces that “the Holy Father was heard as a witness,” which caused a major procedural problem. Not to mention that there are no records of the possible papal testimony. It is impossible for the lawyers to conduct a fair and equitable trial under such conditions.

When the debates resumed, Alessandro Diddi counterattacked: no, the Holy Father was never heard as a witness. He explains, the promoter of justice was just alluding in the recording to the public comments made by the Pope during the press conference given on the plane during his trip to Thailand and Japan on November 26, 2019.

The Argentine pontiff indicated that he had discovered the corruption case after the complaint of an official of the Institute of Roman Works (IOR), the Vatican “bank,” and then gave full power to the promoters of justice to investigate the offices of the secretariat of state.

The ball is now in the court of the president of the tribunal. Giuseppe Pignatone has given himself until December 1 to decide how to proceed with the trial. And he has appointed Lucia Bozzi as deputy judge, to help try and navigate her way through a long and complicated procedure: a little feminine expertise in a ruthless world may not be too much.