WHEN IS A PAPAL AUDIENCE A MYSTERY?
When I got the official Holy See Press Office bulletin today listing the individuals and groups the Pope received in the morning, I was very surprised to see the first name on the list of people whom the Pope would formally receive was Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu.
I was surprised because, since September 2020, the cardinal has been a “persona non grata” in the Vatican. On September 24, 2020, the Holy See Press office released this statement: “Today, Thursday, Sept. 24, the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and related rights of the Cardinalate, presented by His Eminence Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu.”
No explanation was given for the resignation that, it turned out, was at the Pope’s request. Becciu has not been eligible since then to enter into conclave to elect a new Pope.
Once the second most powerful prelate in the Vatican when he was “sostituto” in the Secretariat of State from 2011 to 2018 and then appointed prefect of the Congregation for Causes of Saints and made a cardinal, Becciu is now one of 10 people on trial in the Vatican for, among other accusations of fiscal malfeasance, embezzlement and fraud.
The Pope and the cardinal have met informally several times since September 2020.
In fact, on Holy Thursday, April 1, 2021, instead of celebrating the usual Mass of the Lord’s Supper at a prison, as is his wont, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of Becciu’s apartment. This only became public knowledge when one of the guests at that Mass and dinner published it on their web page. The Vatican’s Holy See calendar had listed a substitute for the Pope on Holy Thursday but gave no reason why.
Becciu participated in events in August 2022 when Pope Francis named new cardinals and also called the entire college together to discuss the new constitution on the Roman Curia. According to Becciu, they have spoken on the phone about the cardinal’s alleged involvement in the fraud case regarding Vatican monies.
This is only the tip of the iceberg relative to the life and times of Cardinal Becciu but it does make one wonder: Does Becciu’s formal audience with the Pope this morning mean the healing of a breach with Pope Francis? Is he about to be re-instated as a cardinal? If so, what does that mean for the accusations against him in the Vatican trial?
More questions at the moment than answers.
ADDRESSING MEMBERS OF AN AMATEUR SPORTS ASSOCIATION (Associazione Dilettantistica Sportiva) in the Vatican on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Vatican Football League, Pope Francis noted that since the first football match in the Belvedere Courtyard in 1521 in the presence of Pope Leo X, the Association now includes other sports disciplines. The Holy Father told those present that when they travel for championships they are “called upon to bear witness to your bond with the Holy See”. He explained that healthy athleticism is an activity that can contribute to the maturation of the spirit, and outlined three fundamental rules for an athlete: training, discipline and motivation. Pope Francis says sport is a metaphor for life – Vatican News
MEETING PHYSICIANS AND THE SICK AHEAD OF THE UPCOMING WORLD DAY OF THE SICK, Pope Francis told the doctors to never be discouraged, for it is the face of Jesus, in those they serve, and that the Lord is closest to those in fragility. The Holy Father offered these comforting reminders as he addressed representatives of the medical area of the Health Pastoral Office of the Diocese of Rome on Thursday in the Vatican. The annual World Day is marked on 11 February, it was introduced by Pope St. John Paul II as a way for believers to offer prayers for those suffering from illnesses. Thanking all those committed to healthcare ministry, the Pope recalled the meeting takes place in the context of the World Day of the Sick, which this year, in the context of the synodal journey, has as its theme the Gospel motto ‘Take care of him’ from the Gospel according to St. Luke. Pope to Doctors: Don’t be discouraged – Vatican News