The Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has confirmed that the Secretariat of State will constitute itself a “civil party” to the prosecution of 10 individuals — including Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu — and four companies in a corruption trial set to begin later this month in Vatican City criminal court.
“We are considered victims,” Cardinal Parolin told journalists in Strasbourg on July 4. “After considering all of the elements,” he said, “we decided to constitute ourselves [a civil party],” though he specified that the Secretariat had no direct knowledge of the investigation.
Pourquoi la Secrétairerie d’Etat s’est-elle portée partie civile ds le procès qui s’ouvrira à l’encontre de 10 prévenus (dont un cardinal) au #Vatican le 27/07, après un scandale de placements financiers ?
— Etienne Loraillère (@Eloraillere) July 4, 2021
Cardinal Parolin — who was in Strasbourg on a scheduled visit to consecrate a new auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese, Fr. Gilles Reithinger of the Paris Foreign Missions Society — was one senior Vatican figure, whose role in the scandal surrounding the embarrassing mismanagement of a blue chip real estate development investment at 60 Sloane Avenue in London has been a major question for journalists and Vatican watchers.
Cardinal Parolin personally approved of several steps in the botched deal, as did the Sostituto of the Secretariat of State — essentially the Vatican’s “chief of staff” — Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra.
Another mid-level cleric, Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, was first suspended and then sent to his home diocese, but those steps did not save Perlasca from raids on his apartment and office in the Vatican.
With Cardinal Parolin and Archbishop Peña, Perlasca is among the clerics not indicted in connection with the deal, into which the Vatican pumped hundreds of millions of Euro and allegedly got fleeced by middlemen along the way.
Vatican News published some detailed background to the Vatican prosecutors’ case, in which the official news outlet reports that Vatican magistrates believe “neither Msgr. Perlasca, who signed the Share Purchase Agreement, nor his Superiors, the Substitute Edgar Peña Parra, and above all Cardinal Pietro Parolin had been effectively informed to be fully aware of the juridical effects that the different categories of actions would cause.”
Exactly how so many senior officials could have been so thoroughly fooled for so long, is just one of the outstanding questions a transparent and competently run criminal trial will be apt to bring to light.
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