VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis accepted spending up to a million euros to free a Colombian nun kidnapped in Mali, a cardinal instructed a Vatican court docket on Thursday, revealing beforehand undisclosed negotiations to safe her launch.
Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, previously one of many Vatican’s highest-ranking prelates, stated the pope had licensed his efforts, together with funds to the militants linked to Al Qaeda who in 2017 had kidnapped Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez Argoti in a village in Mali. She was launched in 2021.
Cardinal Becciu, accused of embezzlement, abuse of workplace and witness tampering, is on trial with 9 different defendants in a corruption trial that facilities on a London actual property deal by which the Vatican misplaced tens of millions, fees that the defendants deny.
Francis demanded the cardinal’s resignation as head of the division in command of making saints in September 2020. Speaking of the second that the pope had confronted him, Cardinal Becciu stated Thursday: “For more than a year and a half I have been tormented by a question: Why were these false accusations reported to the Holy Father?”
The cardinal has testified beforehand within the trial, which started final July. But this was the primary time that he publicly gave particulars concerning the case involving the kidnapped nun, which he stated had been sure by each state and pontifical secret.
On Thursday he thanked the pope for “having dispensed me from the obligation of secrecy, thus allowing me to speak freely and defend myself with total transparency.”
There was no rapid Vatican response to the cardinal’s assertions.
He prefaced that protection by vowing — with “strong and vibrant indignation” — that he had by no means had improper relations with Cecilia Marogna, an Italian lady who was the middleman within the negotiations to free the nun. Ms. Marogna can be on trial, accused of getting embezzled about 575,000 euros from the Vatican Secretariat of State. Prosecutors declare she used a lot of it for “personal benefit,” together with luxurious items. She denies wrongdoing.
Cardinal Becciu testified that he had met Ms. Marogna in 2016 and had been impressed by her experience in “geopolitical issues and international security.” He stated he had turned to Ms. Marogna for assist following the kidnapping in February 2017 of Sister Narvaez, and that she had instructed him that she might work with The Inkerman Group, a British intelligence agency, on “all the operations necessary for the liberation of Sister Gloria.”
He stated he had broached the topic with Pope Francis, who “was pleased that efforts were being made to free the nun and immediately understood the necessity of not exposing the Vatican to unnecessary, and indeed harmful, publicity.”
The cardinal stated the pope had given him the authorization to proceed, however to accomplish that confidentially. The pope additionally had licensed the prices of the operation, “about one million euros, part of which would be used to set up the contact network and part for the actual release of the nun,” he stated Thursday. “I must say that every step of this operation was agreed upon with the Holy Father.”
He stated any funds made had been “aimed at the liberation of Sister Gloria and the expenses to be incurred for that purpose,” and that “no sum had been destined as compensation to Mrs. Marogna,” who would have obtained some compensation had the nun been launched.
Cardinal Becciu didn’t say whether or not a ransom had been paid to the militants for the nun’s launch. The Vatican stated final yr that her launch was the “result of months of negotiations involving the Holy See and the Colombian bishops.”