Biden To Meet Pope Francis At Vatican

File photo: US President Joe Biden  (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP)

 

US President Joe Biden, America’s second Catholic president, and his wife Jill will have an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican on October 29, the White House announced Thursday.

“They will discuss working together on efforts grounded in respect for fundamental human dignity, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis, and caring for the poor,” the White House said in a statement.

Pope Francis In ‘Good’ Condition After Surgery, Says Vatican

File photo of Pope Francis holding a weekly live-streamed Angelus prayer from the library of the apostolic palace in The Vatican. PHOTO: Handout / VATICAN MEDIA / AFP

 

Pope Francis, 84, is doing well after surgery for an inflamed large colon, but is expected to spend around seven days recovering in hospital.

This was disclosed by the Vatican on Monday.

Francis “is in good general condition, alert and breathing spontaneously”, spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement, adding that the surgery “lasted about three hours”.

“A stay of about seven days is expected barring complications,” he said.

The pontiff was admitted to Rome’s Gemelli hospital Sunday for a scheduled operation under general anaesthetic for symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon.

Afterwards, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said he had “reacted well to the surgery”.

The Vatican press office told AFP on Monday it expected to issue a fresh medical bulletin around midday (1000 GMT).

A week earlier, on the eve of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Francis seemed to hint at the upcoming operation, saying: “I ask you to pray for the pope, pray in a special way. The pope needs your prayers”.

READ ALSO: Biden Marks ‘Independence’ From COVID, But Pandemic Woes Persist

The Argentine is likely to stay in hospital for at least five days, according to Italian news agency ANSA.

The Vatican said it could not confirm how long the stay would be.

The pontiff has already put his Wednesday general audience on hold for the summer, and has no other official appointments in his calendar until next Sunday, when he is to lead the Angelus prayer.

Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi sent Francis “affectionate get well soon wishes” Monday, as did the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, Sheikh Ahmed el Tayyeb, who wished him “a speedy recovery”.

Francis is in the same suite on the 10th floor of the Gemelli hospital used by Pope John Paul II, according to Catholic website Cruxnow.com.

The late pope underwent surgery there several times, including after an attempt on his life in 1981, and for a tumour in the colon in 1992, it said.

Francis’s condition causes potentially painful inflammation of the diverticulum, a pocket that can form on the colon walls and which tend to multiply with age.

“Stenosis” here means an abnormal narrowing of the colon, and patients with diverticulitis may experience lower abdominal pain, fever, or rectal bleeding.

The condition may be caused by high pressure within the colon or a diet low in fibre and high in red meat, according to the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.

The pontiff had arrived at the clinic in the afternoon accompanied by his driver and one close aide, and Italian media said he was in the operating room a few hours later.

Born on December 17, 1936 in Argentina, Francis lost part of his right lung at the age of 21. He also suffers from a hip problem and sciatica.

Pope Francis To Undergo Colon Operation – Vatican

This handout photo taken on May 5, 2021, and released by the Vatican press office, the Vatican Media, shows Pope Francis during his live streamed weekly audience at The Vatican.
Handout / VATICAN MEDIA / AFP

 

Pope Francis, 84, was to undergo surgery Sunday in Rome for an inflamed large colon, a Vatican statement said.

The pontiff was admitted to the Gemelli University Hospital “for a scheduled surgery for symptomatic diverticular stenosis of the colon”, it said.

The condition causes potentially painful inflammation of the diverticulum, a pocket that can form on the colon walls and which tend to multiply with age.

A potential complication is an abnormal narrowing of the colon.

A health bulletin was to be issued once the operation had been completed.

Born on December 17, 1936 in Argentina, Francis lost part of his right lung at the age of 21. He also suffers from a hip problem and sciatica.

The pope announced earlier Sunday that he will visit Slovakia in September after a brief stop in Hungary to celebrate a mass in Budapest.

READ ALSO: Saudi Suspends UAE Flights Due To COVID-19 Variant

Francis’ visit to Slovakia will include the cities of Bratislava, Presov, Kosice and Sastin, the Vatican said in a statement.

Although more detailed plans for the trip will be announced later, there was no sign the pope intends to meet Hungary’s political leaders during his stop in Budapest.

AFP

Cardinal, 9 Others, To Be Tried In Vatican Over Alleged Fraud

In this file photo taken on June 1, 2020 people visit the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani) which reopened to the public in The Vatican, while the city-state eas

 

 

An influential Cardinal and nine others will be tried within the Vatican’s legal system over alleged financial wrongdoing, the Holy See announced Saturday.

Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who was one of the most influential figures in the Vatican and a close ally of Pope Francis, will appear before the tribunal of the Holy See from July 27, according to a Vatican statement.

The 73-year-old was dismissed from a powerful Vatican job last September, after Francis told him he was accused of syphoning off Vatican charity funds to help his siblings.

Becciu will be prosecuted over embezzlement, abuse of power and witness tampering in the case, linked to a scandal concerning a loss-making Vatican investment in central London which happened under his watch. He has always professed his innocence.

Before his dismissal, he led the Vatican’s department on sainthoods. From 2011 to 2018 he was the Substitute for General Affairs, a role akin to chief of staff in the Vatican’s central bureaucracy.

Among the others set to face Vatican justice are Rene Bruelhart, former head of the Financial Information Authority (FIA), the Vatican’s financial watchdog.

He will face abuses of power charges as will Enrico Crasso, an investment fund manager who controlled millions of euros of Vatican money.

Among the others facing Vatican justice are former FIA director Tommaso Di Ruzza and Italian consultant Cecilia Marogna, known as “the Cardinal’s Lady” for her links with Becciu.

The investment at the heart of the scandal is a building in London’s upmarket Chelsea district, transformed into 50 luxury apartments.

Vatican Urges ‘Motherly Care’ For Climate Refugees

(FILES) This file photo taken on March 24, 2020 shows a view of the deserted entrance of the closed Vatican Museums in the Vatican during the lockdown aimed at stopping the spread of the COVID-19 (new coronavirus) pandemic.  (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

 

 

Climate change is real and more must be done to protect people displaced by it, the Vatican said Tuesday, as it presented guidelines on helping millions forced to flee their homes.

The document, “Pastoral Orientations on Climate Displaced People,” is a series of policies and proposals to bishops’ conferences, local churches, congregations and organisations dealing with people displaced by climate impacts.

“The Catholic Church has a motherly care for all those who have been displaced by the effects of this crisis,” it read.

It is not the first time the Church has addressed the dangers and repercussions of climate change.

Pope Francis, who has made environmental protection one of the top focuses of his papacy, has often spoken out against global warming, calling it a major threat to the planet.

The document released Tuesday said it was intended as a “roadmap in pastoral planning of climate displaced people.”

“We are already in a climate crisis, one that is fast accelerating,” and “causing immense suffering to millions of our brothers and sisters around the world,” it said.

“It is the poor and vulnerable communities around the world who are disproportionately affected by the ecological and climate crises.

“They are the innocent ones, having contributed least to causing the problem in the first place.”

– ‘Destructive activity’ –
Millions of people have been forced to leave their homes due to the impacts of climate change, from extreme weather to environmental degradation.

According to figures from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, cited by the Vatican, natural disasters triggered 24.9 million displacements across 140 countries and territories in 2019 — three times the number displaced by violence.

The new guidelines address ways to raise awareness of climate displaced people, encourage dialogue with governments and policy-makers, and call for welcoming displaced people into the Church.

In a preface to the document, Pope Francis said although people being driven from their homes due to severe climate events might look inevitable, “like a process of nature,” the reality was often otherwise.

“The deteriorating climate is very often the result of poor choices and destructive activity, of selfishness and neglect, that set humankind at odds with creation, our common home,” he wrote.

At an online press conference, the Archbishop of Beira in Mozambique spoke remotely from his diocese, describing the destruction caused by a series of unprecedented powerful cyclones over the past two years.

Monsignor Claudio Dalla Zuanna described how 2019’s Cyclone Idai destroyed 90 percent of the buildings in Beira and sparked devastating flooding, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

Another priest, Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam, who works in the Vatican department that complied the report, called climate change “ultimately a moral problem”.

“The poor and vulnerable communities whose carbon emissions are only a fraction of those of the rich world are already the early and disproportionate victims of the crisis,” he said.

Vatican Says Catholic Church Can’t Bless Same-Sex Unions

Ahiara Bishop Resigns Over Ethnic Objections
PHOTO USED TO ILLUSTRATE THE STORY: This handout photo taken on February 18, 2018, and released by the Vatican press office Osservatore Romano shows Pope Francis at the Casa Divin Maestro in Ariccia, at the start of his week of spiritual retreat. OSSERVATORE ROMANO / AFP

 

The Vatican on Monday said the Catholic Church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions despite their “positive elements”, saying it was impossible for God to “bless sin”.

The powerful Vatican office responsible for defending church doctrine, The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), issued a response to the question, “Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?”

“Negative,” read the CDF’s response, signed by Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the doctrinal office that was first set up in 1542 to hear heresy cases.

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Blessings are not allowed, wrote the CDF, because what is to be blessed needs to be “objectively and positively ordered to receive and express the grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation, and fully revealed by Christ the Lord”.

“For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex,” it wrote.

The CDF wrote that such relationships might have positive elements to be valued, but that did not make them “legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the creator’s plan”.

The office wrote that while God “never ceases to bless each of His pilgrim children in this world… he does not and cannot bless sin”.

 

 – Denies discrimination –

The CDF denied that its declaration was “a form of unjust discrimination”. Instead, it said it was a “reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite and of the very nature of the sacramentals, as the Church understands them”.

The Church considers that marriage is exclusively the union of a man and woman.

Early in his papacy, Pope Francis took an unprecedented welcoming tone towards the LGBT community, making the now-famous “Who am I to judge?” remark about gay people trying to live a Christian life.

In a documentary released last October, Francis expressed support for same-sex civil unions, although the Vatican later qualified that the comments were highly edited and excluded one saying he was opposed to same-sex marriage.

AFP

Pope Francis Prays For ‘Victims Of War’ In Iraq’s Mosul

 

Pope Francis prayed Sunday for “victims of war” outside a centuries-old church in Iraq’s Mosul, where the Islamic State group ravaged one of the world’s oldest Christian communities until the jihadists’ defeat three years ago.

With the crumbling stone walls of the Al-Tahera (Immaculate Conception) Church behind him, Pope Francis made a plea for Christians in Iraq and the Middle East to stay in their homelands.

The 84-year-old pontiff said the “tragic” exodus of Christians from war-scarred Iraq and the wider region “does incalculable harm not just to the individuals and communities concerned, but also to the society they leave behind”.

The IS onslaught forced hundreds of thousands of Christians in northern Iraq’s Nineveh province to flee. Iraq’s Christian population has shrunk to fewer than 400,000 from around 1.5 million before the US-led invasion of 2003.

The faithful had gathered on Sunday in the courtyard of the Al-Tahera Church, whose roof collapsed during fighting against IS in 2017.

It is one of the oldest of at least 14 churches in Nineveh province that were destroyed by IS.

Boutros Chito, a Catholic priest in Mosul, said the pope’s visit could change the way people think about his city, the ancient centre of which still lies in ruins.

“Pope Francis will announce to the whole world that we are the people of peace, a civilisation of love,” Chito told AFP.

The heaviest deployment of security forces yet has been mobilised to protect Francis on what is perhaps the riskiest day of his historic trip to Iraq, where state forces are still hunting IS sleeper cells.

‘Boost our morale’

Pope Francis’s trip to Iraq as a “pilgrim of peace” aims to reassure the country’s dwindling Christian community and to expand his dialogue with other religions.

On Saturday, the leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics met Iraq’s top Shiite Muslim cleric, the reclusive Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who agreed that Iraq’s Christians should be able to live in “peace”.

“We believers cannot be silent when terrorism abuses religion,” Francis said at an interfaith service in the ancient site of Ur later that morning.

Watching from afar as IS swept across Nineveh in 2014, Pope Francis said at the time he was ready to come and meet the displaced and other victims of war in a show of solidarity.

Seven years later, he is visiting both Mosul and Qaraqosh, one of Iraq’s oldest Christian towns whose residents still speak a dialect of Syriac, the language spoken by Jesus Christ.

It, too, was largely destroyed when IS rampaged through the area, but its residents have trickled back since 2017 and slowly worked at rebuilding their hometown.

“This very important visit will boost our morale after years of difficulties, problems and wars,” said Father George Jahoula in Qaraqosh.

To honour the pope, local artisans wove a two-metre (6.5-foot) prayer shawl, or stole, with the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” prayers carefully hand-stitched in golden thread in Syriac.

It was given to Francis on his first day in Iraq on Friday.

Holy mass in stadium

Francis landed early on Sunday at the airport in the Kurdish regional capital of Arbil, which was targeted just a few weeks ago by a volley of rockets that killed two people.

He held a brief meeting with regional president Nechirvan Barzani and his cousin, the prime minister Masrour Barzani.

Many thousands of troops and police have been deployed as the pope has criss-crossed Iraq, taking planes, helicopters and armoured convoys to cover more than 1,400 kilometres (870 miles) in-country.

The other major challenge is the Covid-19 pandemic, with Iraq gripped by a second wave bringing around 5,000 new cases per day.

Authorities have imposed a nationwide lockdown — ostensibly to keep cases down but also to help control movements of crowds during the pope’s high-profile visit.

While Francis has been vaccinated, Iraq has only just begun a modest inoculation campaign and there are fears that the crowds gathering to see him could lead to super-spreader events.

The biggest event yet will be on Sunday afternoon, when several thousand people will gather at Arbil’s Franso Hariri stadium for the Pope’s last mass in Iraq.

Arbil has been a relative haven of stability and a place of refuge for many Christians who fled IS.

Christian Exodus Does ‘Incalculable Harm’ To Mideast, Says Pope Francis

Pope Francis, accompanied by bodyguards, leaves the Syriac Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation (Sayidat al-Najat) in Baghdad at the start of the first ever papal visit to Iraq on March 5, 2021. In an address to the faithful in Baghdad, Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to his fellow clergy for supporting Iraq's Christians, whose population has dwindled due to conflict. Ayman HENNA / AFP
Pope Francis, accompanied by bodyguards, leaves the Syriac Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation (Sayidat al-Najat) in Baghdad at the start of the first-ever papal visit to Iraq on March 5, 2021. Ayman HENNA / AFP

 

Pope Francis prayed on Sunday for “victims of war” outside a centuries-old church in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, heavily damaged by the Islamic State group ravaged one of the world’s oldest Christian communities until the jihadists’ defeat three years ago.

The 84-year-old said the exodus of Christians from Iraq and the broader Middle East “does incalculable harm not just to the individuals and communities concerned, but also to the society they leave behind.”

With the crumbling stone walls of the Al-Tahera (Immaculate Conception) Church behind him, Pope Francis made a plea for Christians in Iraq and the Middle East to stay in their homelands.

The pontiff said the “tragic” exodus of Christians from war-scarred Iraq and the wider region “does incalculable harm not just to the individuals and communities concerned, but also to the society they leave behind”.

The IS onslaught forced hundreds of thousands of Christians in northern Iraq’s Nineveh province to flee. Iraq’s Christian population has shrunk to fewer than 400,000 from around 1.5 million before the US-led invasion of 2003.

The faithful had gathered on Sunday in the courtyard of the Al-Tahera Church, whose roof collapsed during fighting against IS in 2017.

It is one of the oldest of at least 14 churches in Nineveh province that were destroyed by IS.

Boutros Chito, a Catholic priest in Mosul, said the pope’s visit could change the way people think about his city, the ancient centre of which still lies in ruins.

“Pope Francis will announce to the whole world that we are the people of peace, a civilisation of love,” Chito told AFP.

The heaviest deployment of security forces yet has been mobilised to protect Francis on what is perhaps the riskiest day of his historic trip to Iraq, where state forces are still hunting IS sleeper cells.

‘Boost our morale’

Pope Francis’s trip to Iraq as a “pilgrim of peace” aims to reassure the country’s dwindling Christian community and to expand his dialogue with other religions.

On Saturday, the leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics met Iraq’s top Shiite Muslim cleric, the reclusive Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who agreed that Iraq’s Christians should be able to live in “peace”.

“We believers cannot be silent when terrorism abuses religion,” Francis said at an interfaith service in the ancient site of Ur later that morning.

Watching from afar as IS swept across Nineveh in 2014, Pope Francis said at the time he was ready to come and meet the displaced and other victims of war in a show of solidarity.

Seven years later, he is visiting both Mosul and Qaraqosh, one of Iraq’s oldest Christian towns whose residents still speak a dialect of Syriac, the language spoken by Jesus Christ.

It, too, was largely destroyed when IS rampaged through the area, but its residents have trickled back since 2017 and slowly worked at rebuilding their hometown.

“This very important visit will boost our morale after years of difficulties, problems and wars,” said Father George Jahoula in Qaraqosh.

To honour the pope, local artisans wove a two-metre (6.5-foot) prayer shawl, or stole, with the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” prayers carefully hand-stitched in golden thread in Syriac.

It was given to Francis on his first day in Iraq on Friday.

Holy mass in stadium

Francis landed early on Sunday at the airport in the Kurdish regional capital of Arbil, which was targeted just a few weeks ago by a volley of rockets that killed two people.

He held a brief meeting with regional president Nechirvan Barzani and his cousin, the prime minister Masrour Barzani.

Many thousands of troops and police have been deployed as the pope has criss-crossed Iraq, taking planes, helicopters and armoured convoys to cover more than 1,400 kilometres (870 miles) in-country.

The other major challenge is the Covid-19 pandemic, with Iraq gripped by a second wave bringing around 5,000 new cases per day.

Authorities have imposed a nationwide lockdown — ostensibly to keep cases down but also to help control movements of crowds during the pope’s high-profile visit.

While Francis has been vaccinated, Iraq has only just begun a modest inoculation campaign and there are fears that the crowds gathering to see him could lead to super-spreader events.

The biggest event yet will be on Sunday afternoon, when several thousand people will gather at Arbil’s Franso Hariri stadium for the Pope’s last mass in Iraq.

Arbil has been a relative haven of stability and a place of refuge for many Christians who fled IS.

AFP

Pope Appoints First Woman To Senior Synod Post

Pope Francis delivers a homily during Palm Sunday mass behind closed doors at St. Peter’s Basilica mass on April 5, 2020 in The Vatican, during the lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Alberto PIZZOLI / POOL / AFP.

 

Pope Francis has broken with Catholic tradition to appoint a woman as an undersecretary of the synod of bishops, the first to hold the post with voting rights in a body that studies major questions of doctrine.

Frenchwoman Nathalie Becquart is one of the two new undersecretaries named Saturday to the synod, where she has been a consultant since 2019.

The appointment signals the pontiff’s desire “for a greater participation of women in the process of discernment and decision-making in the church”, said Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary-general of the synod.

“During the previous synods, the number of women participating as experts and listeners has increased,” he said.

“With the nomination of Sister Nathalie Becquart and her possibility of participating in voting, a door has opened.”

The synod is led by bishops and cardinals who have voting rights and also comprises experts who cannot vote, with the next gathering scheduled for autumn 2022.

A special synod on the Amazon in 2019 saw 35 female “auditors” invited to the assembly, but none could vote.

The Argentinian-born pope has signalled his wish to reform the synod and have women and laypeople play a greater role in the church.

He named Spaniard Luis Marin de San Martin as the other under undersecretary in the synod of bishops.

Becquart, 52, a member of the France-based Xaviere Sisters, has a master’s degree in management from the prestigious HEC business school in Paris and studied in Boston before joining the order.

AFP

Pope Francis, Ex-Pope Benedict Get Virus Vaccines Says Vatican

Pope Francis visits Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery to offer his Christmas greetings on December 21, 2018. (Photo by Vatican Media)

 

Both Pope Francis and his predecessor, former pope Benedict XVI, have received the coronavirus vaccine, the Vatican said on Thursday.

“I can confirm that as part of the Vatican City State vaccination programme to date, the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine has been administered to Pope Francis and the Pope Emeritus,” spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

Pope Francis Plans Historic Iraq Trip In March

Pope Francis delivers a homily during Palm Sunday mass behind closed doors at St. Peter’s Basilica mass on April 5, 2020 in The Vatican, during the lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 infection, caused by the novel coronavirus. Alberto PIZZOLI / POOL / AFP.

 

Pope Francis will make a historic visit to Iraq in March, the Vatican said Monday, the first ever by a pontiff and which will include a trip to Mosul.

The 83-year-old has long spoken of his desire to visit the Middle Eastern country, although the Vatican said the programme would “take into consideration the evolution of the worldwide health emergency”.

Francis will be the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to visit Iraq, where the number of Christians has dropped dramatically over the past two decades.

“He will visit Baghdad, the plain of Ur… the city of Erbil, as well as Mosul and Qaraqosh in the plain of Nineveh,” spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement, during a trip planned from March 5 to 8, 2021.

There were more than one million Christians in Iraq but just a few hundred thousand are left following sectarian warfare after the 2003 US-led invasion and the Islamic State group’s sweep through a third of the country in 2014.

The pope’s visit to Mosul will be particularly significant, given that it was a former stronghold of the Islamic State group.

Francis was forced to cancel all foreign trips in June after it became clear that coronavirus, which hit Italy in early March, would make travel for the elderly pontiff too dangerous.

He said last year that Iraq was on his list for 2020 trips.

At the time he said he hoped Iraq could “face the future through the peaceful and shared pursuit of the common good on the part of all elements of society, including the religious, and not fall back into hostilities sparked by the simmering conflicts of the regional powers.”.

READ ALSO: UNICEF Seeks $2.5bn For Mideast Children As COVID-19 Deepens Poverty

“The pope’s visit will come as the realisation of a dream of his predecessor, Pope St. John Paul II,” the Vatican’s news portal said.

“The Polish pope had planned to travel to Iraq at the end of 1999, but was prevented by Saddam Hussein,” it added.

The Iraqi government welcomed news of Francis’ visit, with the foreign ministry saying: “It symbolises a message of peace to Iraq and the whole region.”

President Barham Saleh officially invited the pope to visit Iraq in July 2019, hoping it would help the country “heal” after years of strife.

AFP

Top Cardinal Resigns From Vatican

In this file photo taken on June 28, 2018 Newly elevated cardinal, Giovanni Angelo Becciu from Italy, attends the courtesy visit of relatives following a consistory for the creation of new cardinals on June 28, 2018 in the Apostolic Palace at St Peter’s basilica in Vatican. Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the head of the vatican’s saint-making office, resigned, the Vatican said in a statement on September 24, 2020. ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

 

One of the most influential Vatican cardinals, Angelo Becciu from Italy, resigned his position unexpectedly on Thursday, the Holy See announced without explanation.

“The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and from the rights connected to the Cardinalate, presented by His Eminence Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu,” a one-line statement late on Thursday said.

After a career as a Vatican emissary, Becciu has worked for the last six years as the Substitute for General Affairs, a role akin as chief of staff which means he sees Pope Francis daily and is one of his most trusted aides.

In this file photo taken on June 28, 2018 Italian Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State and special delegate to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, kneels before Pope Francis to pledge allegiance and become a cardinal during a consistory for the creation of fourteen new cardinals on June 28, 2018 at St Peter’s basilica in the Vatican.  Andreas SOLARO / AFP.

 

The 72-year-old was named as a cardinal in summer 2018 and has also had responsibility for the department that oversees beatifications and sainthoods.

His surprise resignation could be a sanction.

He has been linked in the past to an investigation underway within the Vatican over the last year into a property development in the exclusive Chelsea area of London which was paid for with offshore funds and companies.

The process to invest in the scheme to build luxury apartments began in 2014 when Becciu was in the Vatican secretariat, the central bureaucracy of the Holy See.

The Vatican’s police force raided the offices of the secretariat last year to seize financial documents and computers, while five members of staff were suspended.

Becciu defended the purchase at the beginning of the year during an interview.

AFP