The Vatican announced Saturday that 10 people, one of them an Italian cardinal, will be put on trial this month on financial charges including extortion, corruption, and fraud. Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu was indicted on charges of abuse of office, bribery, and embezzlement, CNN reports. Becciu, 73, issued a statement saying he's innocent and calling the case against him a conspiracy. Church rules require that the pope approve the investigation or indictment of a cardinal. Pope Francis elevated Becciu, who was at one time the No. 3 Vatican official, to cardinal in 2018 and removed him from his job last year. Becciu had run the office in charge of naming saints. The indictment also names a former president of the Vatican's Financial Information Authority, a former director of the authority, and four companies. The trial is scheduled for July 27.
The pope had promised to address the Vatican's handling of finances, and Saturday's indictment takes his effort to a new level. There appears to be no modern precedent for the Vatican putting a cardinal on trial, per the Washington Post. The Vatican News detailed the allegations by prosecutors, who say money intended "for the personal charity of the Holy Father" was funneled into "extremely high-risk financial activity" for personal gains, including the fossil fuel industry in Angola. Other charges involve an investment in a luxury residential building in London in which the church lost millions while middlemen reportedly cleaned up. "Finally the moment of clarity is coming,” Becciu's statement said, "and the tribunal will be able to assess the absolute falsehood of the allegations against me." ("Why are you doing this to me?" Becciu reportedly asked the pope when he lost his position.)