Written by Piero Messina.
For the first time in the Vatican’s millennial history, a Cardinal ends up on trial: Angelo Becciu. The cardinal born in Sardinia was for years one of the most influential personalities of the Holy See, first holding the post of Substitute for General Affairs and then assuming, after his appointment as Cardinal in 2018, the role of Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of the Saints.
Becciu is accused of embezzlement and complicity in corruption along with twenty-seven other people who, with various charges, will be tried by the Vatican court starting next October 5. The dossier with the accusations made against the Cardinal is a substantial dossier consisting of over 22,000 pages. The accusations against the Cardinal relate to some real estate investments promoted on behalf of the Holy See with a fund called the Pence of St. Peter, a real banking system into which the offerings to the Holy Father by the faithful from all over the world converge . A small treasure of almost half a billion dollars.
All the world media are talking about an unprecedented financial scandal. Beyond any moral consideration, the story that brought Cardinal Becciu on trial concerns only a small drop in the immense wealth of the Holy See. The Holy See is a sovereign state which, despite its smallness, has a great influence on a very large segment of the world population. In the last ten years, the world Catholic population has grown by almost 10%.
Today the army of Francis is estimated at over 1.3 billion faithful. To carry out its apostolic mission, the Holy See can count on substantial resources. But over time, the wealth of the Holy See has been a stone of scandal. the real financial power of the Holy See is constituted by the more than 5,000 dioceses present throughout the world. A widespread presence that generates – for donations and financing – a river of money that is not easily calculated. Certainly, the richest safes are Italy, Germany and the United States. Is it a coincidence that these three nations are also the epicenter of the clash between Francis and his enemies?
It is through money and its management that the Catholic Church manages to develop its foreign policy. US dioceses collect nearly twelve billion dollars every year. The second safe of the Catholic Church is Germany, where almost 6 billion euros are raised every year. In third place is Italy, with a treasure of one billion euros, but the overall budget of the Holy See, also considering the Vatican City, is quantified at 10 billion a year. The real estate assets of the Holy See and the Dioceses deserve a separate discussion. A conservative estimate speaks of a world value of over 2,500 billion dollars. A mountain of money, an excellent reason for making war on Francis.
Is it therefore possible that the management of 400 million euros, with estimated and not even certain losses between 100 and 200 million euros, becomes a sufficient reason to pillory one of the most influential personalities of the Vatican, Cardinal Becciu together with his entourage?
To understand what is happening, it is necessary to study the judicial file. The best-known chapter of the investigation into the management of the funds of the Secretariat of State concerns the investment in the Athena Capital Global Opportunities Fund of the financier Raffaele Mincione. The operation dates back to the second half of 2013-early 2014, when the Secretariat of State borrowed from Credit Suisse for two hundred million dollars to invest them in the Mincione fund (100 in the movable part, 100 in the real estate one, linked to the London building of Sloane Avenue 60).
The highly speculative investment causes serious economic losses for the Holy See. At 30 September 2018, the shares had lost over 18 million euros compared to the initial value, but the overall loss is estimated to be a much more substantial amount. Furthermore, Mincione allegedly used Vatican money to carry out imprudent operations and to attempt takeover of banks in crisis.
A network of financiers, therefore, would have used the resources destined for charitable works, for completely improper activities. Some investments make you smile. With the resources entrusted by the Holy See, the hedge funds charged with managing that money would have financed film productions such as the film “Man in Black III” and “Rocket Man”, the autobiography of Elton John.
To carry out the investigation, the Vatican Court had to resort to a series of international letters rogatory. Beyond the acquisitions of data and numbered accounts, the magistracies of Great Britain and Switzerland have dismantled the accusatory thesis of the investigators of the Holy See. Despite those judgments, the trial in the Vatican will continue. Is it possible to imagine that behind this small transaction worth half a billion euros, we can glimpse the plot of yet another strategy for the control of power in the Vatican?
Angelo Becciu, with the imposition of the cardinal’s cap, had become one of the probable successors of Pope Francis. The next conclave would have seen him among the candidates for the throne of St. Peter. The financial scandal, however, has erased any hope of an election for Becciu.
Who benefited from it? Another candidate for the succession of Pope Francis is Pietro Parolin, Cardinal and Secretary of State. The scandal of the Sloane Avenue building has not affected him so far. But there is a document, excluded from the gigantic judicial folder, which unequivocally demonstrates Parolin’s approval of those financial movements. A document that will be presented in court by the legal staff of Cardinal Becciu and which risks overwhelming the entire establishment of the Holy See.
It is a letter signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, number two of the Pope, who acquits Cardinal Angelo Becciu. In the letter, Becciu is authorized to spend the money deposited on the account of the Obolo di San Pietro where, how and how much he wanted. A total release.
Moreover, the in-depth analysis of the way in which the funds of the Pence of St. Peter would have been spent, demonstrate the existence of a geopolitical strategy directly linked to the management of those economic resources. From the sea magnum of funds entrusted by the Vatican Secretariat of State to business banks, small and large investments emerge that affect the foreign policy of the Holy See.
This is not a new: in its history, the Vatican has always tried to set a line of foreign policy, conditioning the world’s geopolitical assets. In the past it did so with funds from the IOR, the Religious Works Institute, when, starting from the late seventies, foreign entities and entities such as Solidarnosc were financed, with the specific aim of collapsing the Warsaw Pact. Strategy desired and implemented by Pope John Paul II. Judicial inquiries and trials will demonstrate links between Vatican finance, international criminal systems and arms trafficking networks. But John Paul II became a saint and the Warsaw Pact no longer exists.
Even today, from the judicial papers presented by the Vatican Tribunal against Becciu, financial actions aimed at developing international political relations can be glimpsed. In the judicial file, for example, there is a precise reference to some investments in favor of Retelit. It is a company that deals with telematic networks. Among the shareholders of Retelit there is also LPTIC, the telecommunications company of Libya, of the Libyan state. Among the expenses that the Vatican financiers unload on the Obolo di San Pietro there are also 40 thousand euros used to pay four days of vacation in Sardinia to the former vice premier of Libya Ahmed Maiteeq.
It is a red marker. A signal that demonstrates how the Vatican finance affair has direct projections on the geopolitical strategies that the Holy See wants to implement all over the world. Precisely for this reason, as we will see in the next installment of this investigation, all Western intelligence agencies, led by the Italian secret services, have knocked on the Vatican’s door to obtain contacts, endorsment and structured relationships. And they turned to Angelo Becciu, the man who had been put on trial with the accusation of being a scammer: a distant image from the politician who from Africa to Cuba has always defended the political doctrine of Pope Francis.
WAR OF SPIES AND BLACKMAILS IN THE SHADOW OF THE VATICAN. THE PARALLEL INTELLIGENCE OF CARDINAL BECCIU AND ITALIAN SECRET SERVICES
Intelligence is nothing more than the continuation of diplomacy by other means. This is the rule that has always been in force in the Vatican. The small state in the heart of Rome has practically always been the target of espionage activities by all world powers. To remain in recent times, the missions carried out on the eve of the Second World War should be remembered: the Vatican court was a crossroads of Italian, German, British and American spies and analysts. The fate of the Second World War was also decided with that deep intelligence work. Even in the second part of the twentieth century, the secret services of the whole world are constantly listening to steal the secrets of the Vatican walls. The reason is simple: a word from the Holy Father, a public position, support for a political initiative can change the course of history. In recent history, the Vatican has been at the center of a veritable war of spies. This is demonstrated by the investigations relating to the kidnapping and killing of the Italian politician Aldo Moro in 1978, the attack on Pope John Paul II and the financial scandals that over the past fifty years have marked the crime and judicial news in Italy and in the city of the Vatican. In each of those judicial files, sooner or later, the presence of Russian, American, Czechoslovakian, British and Italian secret agents appears.
How can the Vatican defend itself from this suffocating control of foreign intelligence? Is it possible to argue that among the ranks of the Vatican bureaucracy there is a network of foreign secret agents ready to steal or condition the policy of the Holy See?
These are the reasons that in 2017 convinced Cardinal Angelo Becciu to hire Cecilia Marogna. In that period in Italy the heads of the civil and military secret services were changing. Furthermore, the Vatican was under pressure, because the advance of Islamic radicalism jeopardized the security of the Holy See’s missions in Africa and the Middle East. Cecilia Marogna is not a spy. She is an intelligence analyst who has gained experience in the field, from Bosnia to the Middle East, from Mali to China.
On 13 October 2020, the Italian law enforcement agencies arrested the manager in Milan. Marogna will spend two weeks in prison. The Vatican magistrates have issued an international arrest warrant and Italy is proceeding to stop it, despite the fact that there is no treaty between Italy and the Holy See that provides for such a practice. Cecilia Marogna is accused of having squandered 400,000 euros on discretionary expenses. According to the thesis of the magistrates, those sums should have been used for humanitarian voluntary work. Does Marogna have anything to do with the story of the English building on Sloane Avenue? Absolutely not, but the Vatican magistrates have decided to include her position in the judicial proceedings that led to the indictment of Cardinal Becciu.
But who is Cecilia Marogna? This was explained by Riccardo Sindoca, now her rsolicitor. Sindoca, since 1986, has been an an operational cell of NATO intelligence in Italy. Sindoca was a member of Gladio / Stay Behind. “I pledged allegiance to the Atlantic Pact on November 17, 1986,” he explains. In 2005, however, the Italian judiciary asked for his arrest and the charge of criminal association. The magistrates accused Sindoca of having created an occult and parallel secret service. But He will be acquitted, because the Italian government will be forced to admit that it is aware of everything. “After all, it was I who initiated Cecilia Marogna to intelligence activities,” Sindoca admits.
“I started paying attention to Cecilia Marogna from the time when she worked as a manager for Nokia telephony. We used an Israeli technology in 2008 called “golden lock”, which could only be used on Nokia phones. They were the first crypto phones, it happened in 2009 ”.
“Cecilia was trained by me in this respect and trained to be able to carry out analytical and also operational functions – Sindoca affirms – and today she is able to offer her services of geopolitical analysis of sensitive areas, also in favor of the Vatican Secretariat of State. What is it in concrete means? We are talking about feasibility and protection studies of the apostolic nunciatures that find themselves operating in hostile areas. It is a relationship of trust, which she carried out for his Eminence Cardinal Becciu. Cecilia Marogna has not violated any secrets. She was wrongfully arrested, I took her legal defense, not only because of our personal relationship, but also because I was asked by Israeli entities”.
Thus, since 2017, Cecilia Marogna holds a position of institutional relations and geopolitical studies for the Vatican secretariat of state. This is his job. It is demonstrated on paper and has the endorsement of the Holy Father.
Among the tasks that the geopolitics expert carries out on behalf of Becciu, there is also the opening of a direct channel of relations between the Holy See and the Italian secret services.
In fact, Cecilia Marogna has already been in direct contact with Italian intelligence for some years. Then, in 2017, some executives of the Italian military secret service knock on the Vatican’s door. They want to meet Cardinal Becciu.
The Italian government must appoint the new heads of the foreign secret services. There are two generals in contention for that post: Luciano Carta and Gianni Caravelli. Cardinal Becciu asks Marogna to meet with General Carta and prepare a memo for him. “Becciu told me: it’s your matter, meet him – says the Vatican manager – if that’s okay with you, let’s meet him, adds the Cardinal”. “So I met General Carta, continues Marogna, I will meet him four times. The general made me understand that he had information about me, especially about my way of working in Africa. During the same period I will also meet Caravelli. ” Becciu will ask Marogna who to bet on. She will point to Carta.
On the operational level, Marogna is focused on the Africa / Islamic terrorism dossier. On behalf of the Holy See, and in constant contact with the Italian secret services, Cecilia Marogna deals with the release of Father Luigi Maccalli and Nicola Chiacchio, two Italian hostages kidnapped in Mali by an Islamic terrorist cell linked to Al Qaeda. Maccalli is a religious of the Society of African Missions was kidnapped in September 2018 in his parish in Bomoanga in the diocese of Niamey. On the other hand, Nicola Chiacchio’s profile is indefinable: he is an electronic engineer; he was kidnapped in 2019 and ends up as a hostage in the same terrorist network that captured Father Maccalli. It was never understood what Chiaccio was doing in that place.
Marogna works to free the hostages through his confidential sources. The manager constantly updates General Luciano Carta, who has become the head of the Italian military secret services. Carta, however, remains in command of military intelligence for only eighteen months. He will be replaced by General Caravelli.
The change of seat of the secret services takes place in the midst of the political crisis that threatens to bring down the Conte government.
At some point, at the end of the summer of 2020, something special happens, and Marogna’s role is revealed. The sources of the analyst who works for the Vatican are burned. Italian media launch an information campaign against Marogna. The woman is referred to as the Cardinal’s “Lady”. She is accused of waste, her operating offices in Slovenia are revealed. We are in September 2020, the period in which the fate of the two Italian hostages in Mali is being decided.
“I have always kept Carta informed of what I was doing to obtain the release of Maccalli and Chiacchio “, recalls the Vatican analyst. But Carta was removed from the secret services and appointed to lead Finmeccanica, the Italian state-owned company world leader in the production of weapons. Caravelli arrives at the helm of the military secret services.
On 6 October 2020, sources from Mali inform Marogna of the release of Father Maccalli, and Nicola Chiaccio. An official document is sent to Cecilia Marogna. The Al Qaeda cell in the Maghreb also released the French missionary Sophie Petronin and Soumalia Cissé, the Malian politician. Marogna holds the official document with which the Malian government announces the release of the four hostages. The news of their release will only become public knowledge three days later.
When the Vatican manager communicates the result to the top of the Italian secret services, the answer is icy. So, on 7 October Marogna sends an email to Cardinal Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state. She asks to be received at the Vatican to account for the release of the hostages. Its mission. But Parolin will answer only four days later, on 11 October. In the email he claims that he cannot devote time to her and postpones the meeting.
The meaning of that conversation via e-mail is explained by Riccardo Sindoca: “That exchange of e-mails between Marogna and Parolin shows that the judicial affair of Cecilia Marogna is also connected to the release of the Italian hostages in Mali. Just look at the dates. Cecilia Marogna has an email sent on 7 October to Cardinal Parolin where she asks to be received and communicates the release of the hostages. The email is from the week before Marogna’s arrest. Parolin, with the email of October 11, tells her not to come to the Vatican because he was busy. Here a reflection must be made. The Vatican prosecutor of justice has the obligation, not the discretion, to notify the secretary of state when he intends to proceed against a member of the secretariat of state, or an official, or an employee or acting officer. So when Parolin receives the manager’s email, the Cardinal knew about the investigation. Instead of calling her to the Holy See, He postpones the appointment ”
Does Cecilia Marogna end up in this legal matter because she played an unwitting part in a war for control of the Italian secret services? It seems so. “It was she who legitimized General Carta vis-à-vis the Holy See, when the Italian government was to appoint the head of the foreign secret services,” Sindoca concludes.
The first audience against Cardinal Becciu and the analyst Marogna was held in the Vatican on July 27. The trial was updated as of October 5th. But before that date, Cecilia Marogna will be heard by DIS, the Department that coordinates and directs intelligence activities in Italy. If she were only a mythomaniac, why would the Italian government have called her to hear her version? At stake are the secrets of the Vatican and in the background the war for the succession to Pope Francis.