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Pope Francis authorized hidden payments to free kidnapped nun, says Card. Becciu

Cardinal Angelo Becciu gave a significant statement before the tribunal judging him for embezzling Vatican funds. He says that payments to Cecilia Marogna, of about 500,000 euros over five years, were authorized by the Pope to negotiate the release of a kidnapped religious sister.

The claim revolves around Cecilia Narváez of Colombia, the Franciscan nun who had been kidnapped in Mali in February 2017 and who was released in October 2021.  

Cardinal Becciu maintains that Cecilia Marogna, who he considered an intelligence and security expert, recommended that he approach a British risk and intelligence company called Inkerman, In order to not link the Vatican with a private company that was going to manage the release, Cardinal Becciu, then the deputy secretary of state, relied on Marogna to mediate the deal.

The Cardinal now upholds that Pope Francis gave authorization for the deal to proceed, and explicitly told him not to speak with the Vatican security forces. In fact, he says the Pope asked him to personally take responsibility for the operation outside of the Vatican's diplomatic framework. Cardinal Becciu traveled personally to Inkerman's headquarters in London in January 2018 with Marogna. The budget for the ransom proposed to him was about a million euros, and which he says he communicated to the Pope.

The former deputy secretary of state says that the meetings with Marogna and representatives from Inkerman took place outside of the Vatican to ensure privacy. In his statement before the judge, he affirms that the money transfers were always made to accounts indicated by Marogna so that they would go to Inkerman. 

In his statement, Cardinal Becciu revealed that his former colleague and the primary witness of he persecution, Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, threatened suicide in 2020. He showed a message that he personally sent him on July 3, 2020, in which he said that it was the only way to show his innocence. In light of that fact, Cardinal Becciu had to warn the Vatican's medical staff, who gave him sedatives to prevent him from carrying out the threat. Cardinal Becciu still holds that after the incident, Perlasca changed his statements before the judge in August of that year.