It is called in the Vatican the “trial of the century”, even the “megatrial of the century”. For two years, the ex-Sardinian cardinal Angelo Becciu has been tried for embezzlement, in particular because of an investment of Vatican funds in a building in the chic Chelsea district of London.
Grand reporter for Paris Match, François de Labarre tells this sulphurous story in Vatican Offshore – The Church’s Black Money. Its flowery style sometimes makes it difficult to follow the thread of the investigation, and gives the impression that there is always an eel under the rock: in other words, that the Vatican continues to shamelessly waste the money of the faithful for venality or by geopolitical corruption.
The story is worth telling: Along with Sardinian relatives, Becciu, stripped of his office and title by Pope Francis, embezzled tens, if not hundreds of millions of euros. We meet in particular Nunzio Scarano, a prelate named “Monsignor Cinquecento” because he walked around with his pockets full of 500 euro notes.
The author does not deprive himself of the pleasure of “retrology”, or dietrologia, a common Italian journalistic practice that would be considered conspiracy here: the real explanations are always hidden. In particular, he reports extensively on a thesis by the cardinal who investigated Becciu, the late George Pell. The latter claimed that a complaint for sexual abuse which earned him a conviction in Australia, overturned on appeal, had been fabricated from scratch by his Sardinian enemies. Truly, the Vatican is a gold mine of incredible stories.