Vatican News has prepared a detailed report of the first phase of a trial in the Vatican in which 10 people, including a cardinal, have been indicted for embezzlement, corruption, extortion, money laundering and self-laundering, fraud, and abuse of office, among other charges.

I have edited in two ways only: I divided a few single paragraphs that were very long into two paragraphs, and I corrected the name of one defendant that was spelled correctly in several paragraphs and incorrectly in others.

This is long but provides a great deal of information that I have not seen elsewhere in a single report.


Vatican press office director, Matteo Bruni, today confirmed the July 28 Episcopal ordination in the cathedral of Pingliang, Chinese province of Gansu, of Rev. Antonio LI Hui, appointed by Pope Francis as Coadjutor of Pingliang on 11 January 2021. Li is 5th Chinese Bishop appointed and ordained in the regulatory framework of the Provisional Agreement on the appointment of Bishops in China.


The trial over the use Secretariat of State funds began on Tuesday in the courtroom of the Vatican Museums. The defense attorneys for the ten defendants presented preliminary motions. The next hearing is scheduled for October 5.

Salvatore Cernuzio – Vatican City

The large courtroom set up in the Vatican Museums hosted, on Tuesday, 27 July, the first hearing in the Vatican over the illicit deals made with Secretariat of State funds, starting with the sale of the Sloane Avenue Building in London. Judge Giuseppe Pignatone with Judges Venerando Marano and Carlo Bonzano at his side, presided over the hearing, which lasted seven hours from 9:41 to 16:45. About thirty lawyers, journalists, and gendarmes were present, although only two of the ten defendants were present: Msgr. Mauro Carlino, already in the courtroom early in the morning, and Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, the former Substitute of the Secretariat of State, who is accused of embezzlement, abuse of office and subornation. (photo: Vatican media)

The cardinal, from whom the Pope revoked the prerogatives of the cardinalate in September 2020, attended the entire hearing, sitting. And at the end of the hearing, he recalled that he had always been “obedient to the Pope, who sent me to trial”, saying he was “not worried”: “I have the confidence that the judges will see the facts clearly and my great hope is the certainty that they will recognize my innocence”. He also announced that he had given a mandate to his lawyers to denounce Msgr. Alberto Perlasca and Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui for slander.

Marogna and Torzi’s lawyers ask for a postponement

At the beginning of the hearing, Pignatone communicated the extension of the terms for the presentation of evidence and petitions for the respective defenses and joined to the main trial the position of the former president of AIF (now ASIF), René Brülhart, who, through his lawyer, made it known that he was prevented from coming from Zurich but agreed to the continuation of the trial.

Pignatone then gave the floor to the lawyers. The first one was Fiorino Ruggio, defender of Cecilia Marogna, the manager from Cagliari, who was not present. The lawyer made a request for a postponement since the DIS (Dipartimento delle informazioni per la sicurezza) had ordered an investigation and therefore the testimony of Marogna has to be freed from secrecy first.

Ambra Giovene, Torzi’s lawyer, deposited a copy of the request for “legitimate impediment” of his client to attend the hearing. Torzi is the recipient of a precautionary measure, which also includes an electronic bracelet, issued on April 28, 2021 with a request for extradition from Great Britain: “He cannot move from London,” his lawyer said. And the other lawyer Marco Franco replied: “Torzi, even when he would receive the authorization from the British judge to come to court, would be arrested at Fiumicino airport”. The defense then insisted on the postponement: “It is not in the interest of this defense to hold a trial on its own”.

The defender of Crasso

Over an hour was spent by the lawyer Carlo Panella, defending the financier Enrico Crasso and his three companies (Prestige Family Office Sa, Sogenel Capital Investment, Hp Finance), who presented some objections. The first related to the establishment of a civil action by APSA and the IOR, which, according to the lawyer, should be “inadmissible” as they presented “a generic formula” with the request for compensation for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage, including damage to reputation, without explaining the reasons.

Panella then stated that: “It is not possible that three parties are constituted expressions of the same state and that each one asks for compensation. The risk is to triple the compensation”. The lawyer then complained about the lack of “numerous acts” – among the 28,000 documents deposited – which to date have not been made available to the defence or were illegible, including nine USB pen drives containing bank statements and bank documentation from Switzerland. The lawyer has also pointed out that the defendants have not been guaranteed the necessary time to prepare their defence.

Challenges on the Pope’s rescripts

Panella also contended that there would be a lack of jurisdiction over the crimes of money laundering and self-laundering charged against Crasso and his companies abroad and not on Vatican territory. Finally, he challenged the fact that by virtue of a Rescript dated 2 July 2019 by Pope Francis, the office of the Promoter of Justice was authorized to proceed in the manner of a summary process and to take measures, including precautionary measures.

According to the lawyer, a rescript is an “administrative act”, and so there is a “doubt concerning whether is appropriate that an administrative act should derogate from existing legislation.” Three other Rescripts of the Pope would have introduced criminal procedures “only for this process”, which, according to Crasso’s defender, would make the Vatican “a special Tribunal”.

Tirabassi’s Defense

All the other attorneys joined in the requests of attorney Panella, asking that the indictment be declared null and void. In particular, Cataldo Intrieri, a lawyer for Fabrizio Tirabassi (formerly an official of the Secretariat of State) pointed out that the acts lack documentation concerning his client, such as the search and seizure order that took place in October 2019 in the Secretariat of State and the experts’ report on the examination of Tirabassi’s computers: “The contents were extracted without our being consulted.” And he recalled that money was seized from Tirabassi’s and his father’s home that, according to the lawyer, should not have been possible to sequester “because it was there before 2013”. Moreover, according to what Intrieri pointed out, the file of the appeals court in Rome that had established the illegitimacy of the seizure and ordered the restitution of the goods to the owners appears to be missing.

Perlasca and the trial

This was followed by the intervention of attorney Salvino Mondello, who stated that his client, Msgr. Carlino, had been accused in the two interrogations of “completely different crimes from those that had been referred”.

Then it was the turn of Fabio Viglione, Cardinal Becciu’s lawyer, who complained about the lack of recordings of Msgr. Alberto Perlasca’s interrogations (including videos of the interrogations), as well as “a series of acts that refer to forensic copies of numerous computer devices in use” by Perlasca himself. This was echoed by deputy Leonardo Mazza, according to whom the five interrogations of Perlasca – of which, he said, traces had been lost – are null and void, as well as “the result of an obvious procedural violation of the rights of guarantee”. In particular, this regards the first interrogation of August 31, 2020, to which the Perlasca presented himself voluntarily and without a defence attorney.

On the other hand, Giandomenico Caiazza, defense counsel for broker Raffaele Mincione, said that in the acts they learned “almost by chance” of the existence of an arrest warrant issued on 19 June 2020 against Mincione. “This warrant was never executed, but it was issued with the same logic as that of Torzi”. The lawyer hinted that if Mincione had shown up for questioning that day, he would have been arrested: “This is a method that will call for appropriate prudence towards similar citations to interrogations at the Vatican City State”.

Severino: “The Pope is the legislator”.

The lawyers’ remarks were answered by Paola Severino, former Italian Minister of Justice and attorney for the Secretariat of State for the civil process, who reiterated the legitimacy of APSA’s incorporation as a civil plaintiff by virtue of the Pope’s Motu proprio of December 26, 2020, which transferred funds and investments of the Secretariat of State to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See: “In the case of compensation to the Secretariat of State, no longer holders of assets, there were fears of objections of legitimacy. Hence the establishment of the APSA”. As for the fact that the Vatican is a “special tribunal”, the professor reiterated the “strong moral connotation” of the trial underway and, on several occasions; the validity of the rescripts of the Pontiff, stressing that “the Pope is the legislator, as is the case in all the processes in the Vatican”.

Also present in the courtroom on behalf of the IOR was lawyer Roberto Lipari, who stressed that the Istituto per le Opere di Religione is “an injured party”: “The task of the IOR is to safeguard the assets destined for works of religion and charity. The illicit use of IOR assets damages the ability of the IOR – which is not part of either the Holy See or the Vatican City State – to make new contacts and relationships.”

The Promoter of Justice

For his part, the promoter of justice (effectively, the chief prosecutor), Gian Piero Milano, returned to the question of the papal rescript which, he explained, is an act that expresses “the supreme power” of the Pope: “If we look at this hearing with the eyes of a jurist, we have a deformed vision of this order and we can attribute non-compliant meanings of the civil orders,” he clarified. Referring to the “special” character of the Vatican Tribunal for the ongoing process, he said instead: “It would become a special tribunal if it arrogated to itself the prerogative of reviewing acts that are the expression of a power removed from any evaluation”.

The explanations of the assistant promoter

The response of the assistant promoter, Alessandro Diddi, was more extensive. He began by saying, “If we have made mistakes, we are ready to amend them”. Then he replied, point by point, to each of the objections of the lawyers. First of all, he made it clear that the defense should not be based on the differences between the Italian and Vatican systems: “Let’s clarify the rules: making continuous reference to a system that is not the one in force distracts attention from what we are going to do from here in the coming months”. Reiterating the effectiveness of the Pope’s rescripts, Diddi explained that it is precisely because of this papal provision that the arrest warrant for Torzi and Mincione was issued. The latter mandate was decided because during those days in June 2020, at a “crucial” phase of the investigations, there was “an attempt to mislead” by the two brokers. “We felt we had to intervene with precautionary measures”.

The adjunct promoter also explained that all the computer items seized are currently kept in a safe in the office of the Promoter of Justice and that if some acts have not been produced it is because the laws in force establish that it is possible to deposit acts of proceedings and not seized acts: “The only material that cannot be included is a huge amount of computer items kept in a small location, a small building, in a room full of devices”. However, Diddi reiterated his willingness, subject to authorization by the Court, to reproduce any documentation requested. Finally, he said he was proud of the fact that “in a year and a half of investigations there has been no leakage of information”.

The decision of the Tribunal

After an hour and twenty minutes of council chamber, President Pignatone revoked the Vatican’s arrest warrant against Mincione and reserved the right to decide on the objections and requests of the lawyers. He then established the judgment in absentia of all those absent from the first hearing, with the exception of broker Gianluigi Torzi, who is not participating due to a legitimate impediment; as well as Cardinal Becciu and his former secretary Msgr. Carlino who had appeared in court.




As I write, a trial of 10 people, including a cardinal, is underway in the Vatican with the ten accused of embezzlement, corruption, extortion, money laundering and self-laundering, fraud, and abuse of office, among the charges.

A pool of vaticanisti is following the trial. When today’s session is over, they will together write a report for the rest of the journalists accredited to the Holy See who will then be able to ask questions and write their own stories.

(shuttercock photo-CNA)

Until we get that, I offer the following, the announcement made by the Vatican on July 3 about this trial and reported in Vatican news (bold is in original):

On July 3, 2021, the President of the Vatican Court ordered the summons for the judgment of the defendants in the context of the financial investments of the Secretariat of State in London. The trial will begin at the hearing on July 27th.

The request for the summons for trial was submitted in recent days by the Office of the Promoter of Justice, in the persons of the Promoter Gian Piero Milano, the Deputy Alessandro Diddi and the Applicant Gianluca Perone, and regards ecclesiastical and lay personnel of the Secretariat of State and senior figures of the then Financial Intelligence Authority, as well as external figures active in the world of international finance.

They are:

– René Brülhart, who is accused of abuse of office;

– Msgr. Mauro Carlino, who is accused of extortion and abuse of office;

– Enrico Crasso, who is accused of embezzlementcorruptionextortionmoney laundering and self-launderingfraudabuse of officeforgery of a public deed committed by a private individual and forgery in a private document;

– Tommaso Di Ruzza, who is accused of embezzlementabuse of office and breach of confidentiality;

– Cecilia Marogna, who is accused of embezzlement;

– Raffaele Mincione, who is accused of embezzlementfraudabuse of officeembezzlement and self-laundering;

– Nicola Squillace, who is accused of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and self-laundering;

– Fabrizio Tirabassi, who is accused of corruptionextortionembezzlementfraud and abuse of office;

– Gianluigi Torzi, who is accused of extortionembezzlementfraudembezzlementmoney laundering and self-laundering;

and against the companies:

– HP Finance LLC, referable to Enrico Crasso, to whom the indictment alleges the crime of fraud;

– Logsic Humanitarne Dejavnosti, D.O.O., attributable to Cecilia Marogna, accused of embezzlement;

– Prestige Family Office SA, attributable to Enrico Crasso, who is accused of fraud;

– Sogenel Capital Investment, which can be traced back to Enrico Crasso, to which the indictment alleges the crime of fraud.

Some of the aforementioned offences are also alleged to have been committed “in complicity.”

The investigations, launched in July 2019 following a complaint by the Institute for the Works of Religion and the Office of the Auditor General, involved full collaboration between the Office of the Promoter and the Judicial Police Section of the Gendarmerie Corps. The investigations were also carried out in close and fruitful cooperation with the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Rome and the Economic and Financial Police Unit – G.I.C.E.F. of the Guardia di Finanza of Rome. The cooperation of the Public Prosecutor’s Offices of Milan, Bari, Trento, Cagliari and Sassari and their respective judicial police sections was also appreciated.

Elements also emerged against Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who is being prosecuted, pursuant to the law, for the crimes of embezzlement and abuse of office, also in collaboration, as well as subornation**.

The investigations, carried out also with rogatory commissions in several other foreign countries (United Arab Emirates, Great Britain, Jersey, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Switzerland), have brought to light a vast network of relationships with operators in the financial markets that have generated substantial losses for the Vatican finances, having also drawn on the resources intended for the personal charitable works of the Holy Father.

The judicial initiative is directly related to the indications and reforms of His Holiness Pope Francis, in the work of transparency and rehabilitation of Vatican finances; work that, according to the accusation, was countered by speculative illegal activities and detrimental to reputation in the terms indicated in the request for trial.

Vatican City, 3 July 2021

(**JFL: subornation is inducing someone to commit an unlawful act or to commit perjury

For background, here is a July piece by CNA’s Andrea Gagliarducci: In London deal indictment, what is missing has a meaning, too ( And this today from CNA: Vatican finance trial: Here’s what you need to know about the case centred on a London property deal (

Posted 4:55 pm, Rome time



The following were released to journalists by the Holy See Press Office:


Cardinal Pell is obviously disappointed with the decision today.

However his legal team will thoroughly examine the judgement in order to determine a special leave application to the High Court.

While noting the 2-1 split decision, Cardinal Pell maintains his innocence.

We thank his many supporters.


The Victorian Court of Appeal has today announced that, in a 2-1 decision, Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his convictions for child sexual abuse offences has been dismissed. (cna/ewtn photo)

The Catholic Bishops of Australia believe all Australians must be equal under the law and accept today’s judgement accordingly.

Cardinal Pell’s legal team has said it will examine the judgement in order to determine a special leave application to the High Court.

The Bishops realise that this has been and remains a most difficult time for survivors of child sexual abuse and those who support them. We acknowledge the pain that those abused by clergy have experienced through the long process of the trials and appeal of Cardinal Pell. We also acknowledge that this judgement will be distressing to many people.

We remain committed to doing everything we can to bring healing to those who have suffered greatly and to ensuring that Catholic settings are the safest possible places for all people, but especially for children and vulnerable adults.


The Victorian Court of Appeal has today upheld the verdict of historical sexual abuse allegations against Cardinal George Pell in a 2-1 decision.

From the outset the Cardinal has strenuously maintained his innocence. He continues to do so notwithstanding today’s decision.

Today’s split decision amongst the judges is consistent with the differing views of the juries in the first and second trials, as well as the divided opinion amongst legal commentators and the general public. Reasonable people have taken different views when presented with the same evidence and I urge everyone to maintain calm and civility.

As the Cardinal may yet decide to appeal the judgment to the High Court of Australia, I am limited in my ability to comment on today’s outcome.

Matters of the Cardinal’s status within the Church can only be determined by the Vatican, not the Church in Australia. I anticipate that the Holy See may well wait until the appeal process has been exhausted.

I recommit myself and the Archdiocese of Sydney to doing all we can to ensure that past crimes are never repeated and that Church environments are the safest possible for children and vulnerable adults.

I pray for and will continue to support survivors of child sexual abuse at the hands of clergy and other members of the Catholic Church so that they may find justice and healing. I again say how sorry I am that you were harmed by people you should have been able to trust. I am conscious how you and your loved ones have had to live with the consequences of abuse for a lifetime.

I know that there are many in the Catholic community and beyond who will find it difficult to come to terms with this judgment, especially those who know the Cardinal and will struggle to reconcile this outcome with the man they know. I thank them for persevering in faith, hope and love.

As we wait to hear whether the legal process will continue, I will seek to provide pastoral support to those Catholics who may have found their faith tested

Archbishop Peter A Comensoli’s Media Statement on Cardinal George Pell

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Today the Victorian Court of Appeal, in a 2:1 majority decision, dismissed Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his conviction for assaulting two choir boys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in late 1996 and early 1997.

I respectfully receive the Court’s decision, and I encourage everyone to do the same. That there have been two trials, and now today’s decision in the Court of Appeal, the complexity of the search for the truth in this matter has tested many, and may very well continue to do so.

My thoughts and prayers are with the man who brought this matter before the courts. I humbly acknowledge it has been a challenging time for him, and I stand ready to offer pastoral and spiritual help, should he seek it.

In Christian charity, I will ensure that Cardinal Pell is provided pastoral and spiritual support while he serves the remainder of his sentence, according to the teaching and example of Jesus to visit those in prison.

I also want to acknowledge with gratitude the people who have been involved in this case. For many, this has been a demanding and distressing experience.

To the faithful of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, I want to acknowledge the deep impact today’s decision will have for you. My prayer is that all of us might reach out to each other in faith, hope and love, as I do for you at this moment.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne continues to work with survivors to offer support for their healing, recovery and well-being. This is based upon an Archdiocesan-wide commitment to build a culture of respect and safety for all, and to reach out to those who courageously bring forward their stories.

I re-commit myself and the Archdiocese to a culture that listens, that seeks to bring justice and healing, and that protects children and vulnerable people.

Most Rev Peter A Comensoli Archbishop of Melbourne


The very first statement from Holy See Press Office after the verdict: “While reiterating its respect for the Australian judicial system, as stated on 26 February after the first instance verdict was announced, the Holy See acknowledges the court’s decision to dismiss Cardinal Pell’s appeal. As the proceedings continue to develop, the Holy See recalls that the Cardinal has always maintained his innocence throughout the judicial process and that it is his right to appeal to the High Court. At this time, together with the Church in Australia, the Holy See confirms its closeness to the victims of sexual abuse and its commitment to pursue, through the competent ecclesiastical authorities, those members of the clergy who commit such abuse.”

Journalists accredited to the Holy See Press Office were notified that this morning, Wednesday, August 21, 2019 at 9:15, press office Director Matteo Bruni will read the declaration on the outcome of the appeal process of Cardinal George Pell.

Responding to the questions received from journalists, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, has affirmed the following: “As in other cases, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is awaiting the outcome of the ongoing proceedings and the conclusion of the appellate process prior to taking up the case.

“As was stated by the Holy See Press Office on 26 February, the Holy Father had already confirmed the precautionary measures imposed on Cardinal Pell upon his return to Australia, that is, as is the norm, the prohibition from exercising public ministry and from any voluntary contact whatsoever with minors.”