A hearing in the Vatican finance trial on Nov. 17, 2021. / Vatican Media.
Vatican City, Mar 30, 2022 / 10:23 am (CNA).
Cardinal Angelo Becciu can testify against his fellow defendant in the Vatican finance trial, the self-described “security consultant” Cecilia Marogna, a judge ruled on Wednesday.
The Vatican’s chief judge said on March 30 that Pope Francis had dispensed Becciu from the obligation of the pontifical secret, a rule of confidentiality protecting sensitive information regarding the governance of the universal Church.
Giuseppe Pignatone’s decree on the pontifical secret was issued during a hearing in a finance trial that began last summer.
The Vatican is holding a landmark trial to prosecute 10 defendants accused of financial malfeasance, mostly in connection with a London property purchased as an intended investment by the Secretariat of State.
Wednesday’s audience consisted of more than four hours of questioning of Msgr. Mauro Carlino, a former official of the Secretariat of State, who served as personal secretary to Becciu and later Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, Substitute (Sostituto) of the Secretariat of State.
Carlino has been charged with extortion and abuse of office.
Becciu had invoked the pontifical secret regarding his dealings with Marogna, a 40-year-old from Sardinia, who has been accused of misappropriating more than 500,000 euros (around $600,000) she received from the Secretariat of State through her Slovenia-registered company in 2018 and 2019.
Marogna has said that she worked for the Secretariat of State as a security consultant and strategist under Becciu’s direction.
In his testimony, Carlino made numerous references to God and to his priesthood, even recounting the story of his calling to be a Catholic priest.
He emphasized the promise of obedience he had made to his bishop at his ordination and said he had always followed the orders of his superiors throughout his service in the Vatican.
Carlino testified that Peña Parra had asked him to involve himself, as his trusted go-between, in finishing the Secretariat of State’s negotiations over the London property.
The building at 60 Sloane Avenue in London was bought in stages from 2014 to 2018. But Gianluigi Torzi, the man who brokered the last part of the deal, had sold the secretariat the 30,000 majority shares in the holding company through which the London property was purchased, while retaining the 1,000 shares with voting rights.
According to Carlino, Pope Francis was anxious for the secretariat to gain control of the property and close the negotiation with Torzi with the smallest payment possible.
The priest said that Peña Parra asked for his help, in obedience and confidentiality, to resolve the “serious mistake” of the 1,000 voting shares.
Carlino pointed the finger at Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, another priest working at the Secretariat of State at the time, who has not been charged after becoming a key witness for the prosecution.
Perlasca was the head of the administrative office and the official who signed the documents of authorization which led the voting shares to be assigned to Torzi.
The questioning of Carlino will continue at the next hearing, scheduled for April 5.
René Brülhart and Tommaso Di Ruzza are also expected to testify at the April 5 hearing.
Brülhart, former president of what was then known as the Financial Information Authority (AIF), has been charged with abuse of office.
Di Ruzza, former AIF director, has been charged with abuse of office and breach of confidentiality.