An Italian dermatology hospital and two senior cardinals are at the center of a burgeoning financial scandal involving a Vatican bank, the U.S.-based Papal Foundation and millions of euros from misallocated government grants.
The events concern the financial collapse of the Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata (IDI), an Italian hospital.
According to media reports and new sources, Cardinal Angelo Becciu and Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi have been key players in a complicated series of transactions that financed the Vatican Secretariat of State’s 2015 acquisition of the hospital, which had collapsed under large-scale acts of theft and money laundering that led to the imprisonment of its president.
Multiple sources in the United States and in Rome have confirmed to CNA that then-Archbishop Becciu was responsible for organizing a concerted effort by other Vatican officials and American cardinals, including then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, to pressure the board of the U.S.-based Papal Foundation to approve a grant of $25 million in 2017.
Although American donors were told the money was to ease a temporary cash shortage at the IDI hospital, sources in the Administration for the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) and the Papal Foundation told CNA that the true purpose of the loan was to help remove a 50-million-euro debt from APSA’s books.
The debt was the result of an APSA loan to a nonprofit partnership between the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and an Italian religious order, which borrowed the money to purchase the IDI, which was then in bankruptcy. The hospital was unable to repay the debt; and because the loan violated European banking agreements, it stood to put APSA under strict regulatory oversight.
Cardinal Becciu, who was then the second ranking figure at the Secretariat of State, reportedly stepped in to stop the bad loan from putting APSA and the hospital at risk of serious financial scandal.
According to one senior source at APSA, Cardinal Becciu was the “driving force” behind efforts to secure the grant from the Papal Foundation, even while American cardinals were assured that the request came directly from Pope Francis.
“Of course it was [Cardinal Becciu] who was behind the grant request,” one senior figure at APSA told CNA. “He was very personally concerned that the IDI deal was sanated and would pose no further scandals.”
Becciu disputed that account, telling CNA Oct. 28 that he was not involved in securing the Papal Foundation grant.
“Cardinal Parolin assumed the office of secretary of state [in 2013], and I no longer concerned myself with IDI,” Cardinal Becciu told CNA.
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