Pope Francis secretly recorded a phone call during Cardinal Angelo Becciu’s trial

Pope Francis was secretly recorded having a phone conversation with one of his former top cardinals discussing payments from the Holy See to free a nun held hostage by al-Qaeda-affiliated militants in North Africa.

In a shocking legal move, the recorded telephone conversation between Pope Francis and Cardinal Angelo Becciu – one of 10 defendants in an ongoing embezzlement trial – was played back in front of the Vatican court.

In the conversation, Becciu can be heard asking the pope to confirm that he has authorized payments to free the nun, who was kidnapped in 2017. She was finally released last year and met the Pope.

Journalists were asked to leave the courtroom before the tape was played because the recording had not yet been formally admitted as evidence, but a transcript from Italy’s financial police was published by Italy’s Adnkronos news agency, CNN reported.

The recording was made on July 24, 2021 — just three days before Becciu was due to go on trial for alleged embezzlement and abuse of office — and 10 days after Pope Francis was released from hospital in Rome for bowel surgery, the outlet said.

Beccui can be heard asking the pope to confirm that he has authorized payments to self-proclaimed security adviser Cecilia Marogna, who has also been named as a defendant in the trial. Marogna would then pay the British firm Inkerman Group to free the nun.

Cardinal Angelo Becciu was forced to resign as Secretariat of State of the Holy See in September.
AFP via Getty Images

Beccui said the payments were $363,706 USD to Inkerman Group and $519,518 USD in ransom for the nun.

The pope told the cardinal that he vaguely remembered the payments, but asked him to put his request for confirmation in writing.

According to CNN, there is no Vatican law that requires the pope to testify at a trial.

Becciu, the former Secretariat of State of the Holy See, was forced to resign on September 24. He is suspected of funneling money from the Vatican to companies and charities led by his three brothers.

He also allegedly oversaw a multi-million dollar investment in luxury real estate in London, which is at the center of the lawsuit. Prosecutors have accused defendants of defrauding the Holy See and then extorting €15 million from the Vatican to gain control of the property. The Vatican lost 100 million euros in the real estate transaction alone.

Becciu has maintained that all his financial transactions have been stamped for approval by his superiors. He, Marogna and all the other defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors have charged Italian brokers and other Vatican officials with a number of financial crimes, including fraud, embezzlement, corruption and abuse of office

In the London case, they accuse the defendants of defrauding the Holy See and then extorting €15 million from the Vatican to gain control of the property.

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