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MILAN (ChurchMilitant.com) - An Italian woman has been arrested in connection to recent financial scandals at the Vatican.
Tuesday in Milan, Italian police arrested Cecilia Marogna. Reports say she was arrested on an Interpol warrant on behalf of the Vatican.
In recent interviews circulating in Italian media, the 39-year-old woman has admitted she received about half a million euros from Cdl. Angelo Becciu, for work she did for the Vatican's Secretariat of State.
In 2011–2018, Cdl. Becciu was substitute for general affairs, a key position in the Vatican.
Italian news outfits have nicknamed Marogna "la dama del cardinale" — "the cardinal's lady."
Coming under especially intense criticism are Marogna's spending habits. According to Italian broadcast Le Iene, Marogna spent €220,000 ($258,471) on "luxury goods such as handbags, accessories and perfumes."
"I didn't steal a single euro," Marogna has said in response to scrutiny over her income and her spending.
Marogna served as a security consultant to the Secretariat of State through her company based in Slovenia (a nation in the Balkans, east of northern Italy). The cardinal is accused of working with her to secretively create intelligence networks overseas.
Marogna says she first contacted Cdl. Becciu via email in 2015 to discuss security concerns at Vatican nunciatures. Furthermore, she says the payments from the Vatican were for her work pulling together intelligence activities to protect Vatican embassies and missions in Africa and the Middle East.
For his part, Cdl. Becciu claims he was "cheated" by Marogna.
Cardinal Becciu's dealings with Marogna and her company are just the latest in a string of financial scandals implicating the cardinal.
Pope Francis accepted Cdl. Becciu's resignation last month from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and from "the rights connected with the cardinalate."
Becciu's resignation came after he was accused of embezzling Vatican funds. The cardinal allegedly funneled money from the Church's coffers to his three brothers — Francesco, Mario and Tonino.
Italian news magazine L'Espresso claimed in a report last month that Cdl. Becciu's resignation was specifically a result of the scandal involving his brothers.
Even the cardinal himself said he was sacked by Pope Francis over allegations of financial misconduct.
Cardinal Becciu claims he and his brothers are not guilty of any fiscal wrongdoing.
The cardinal was also involved in another major financial debacle: the Vatican's London property scandal.
The Vatican Secretariat of State purchased a property for more than $200 million. The property, located at 60 Sloane Ave. in Chelsea, London, was a former industrial building slated for conversion into luxury apartments.
The hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase the property came from Peter's Pence — a special collection every June from the faithful around the world that's meant to support the Holy See's charitable projects worldwide.
Cardinal Becciu's connection to the scandal was that he authorized the purchase in his role as substitute for general affairs.
When the deal came to light, many scrutinized the use of charitable funds to buy a high-value property.
Last December, a report in the Wall Street Journal stated, "What the church doesn't advertise is that most of that collection, worth more than 50 million euros ($55 million) annually, goes toward plugging the hole in the Vatican's own administrative budget, while as little as 10% is spent on charitable works, according to people familiar with the funds."
In January this year, a layperson in Rhode Island filed suit against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), claiming the bishops misled the faithful about where their donations to Peter's Pence were actually being directed.
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