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Rome & the World: Vatican financial trial goes from scandal to scandal

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I.Media - published on 12/06/22

Also in today's headlines: 100 Nativity scenes display touched by Ukraine war • Rupnik case analyzed

Every day, Aleteia offers a selection of articles written by the international press about the Church and the major issues that concern Catholics around the world. The opinions and views expressed in these articles are not those of the editors.

Tuesday 6 December 2022
1. The ever messier Vatican financial trial
2. A Ukrainian Nativity scene in the Vatican Nativity Scenes Exhibition 
3. Ukraine: a pivot in Francis’ position? 
4. An analysis of the Rupnik case, accused of abuse 
5. Congolese Nobel Peace Prize winner will visit the Vatican

The last few weeks have seen some shocking developments in the Vatican financial trial, which features 10 defendants, including Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, and revolves around how the Secretariat of State managed its money and investments in the 2010s. “Trial-watchers” are still unpacking two major revelations, explains The Pillar. The first is that Cardinal Becciu, former Substitute of the Secretariat of State, and a close family friend, secretly taped a phone call with Pope Francis where they discussed the upcoming trial. The second is that lawyers for both the prosecution and defense have now discovered that the prosecution’s star witness, Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, who worked under Cardinal Becciu in the Secretariat of State, may have been coached and possibly coerced into testifying by Francesca Chaoqui. She was at the center of the so-called Vatileaks 2.0 trial in the mid-2010s. “Chaouqui is a complicating factor for a number of reasons. For a start, she’s a convicted criminal in Vatican City, having been given an 18-month suspended sentence in 2016 for leaking confidential documents. She is also known to blame Becciu for her trial and conviction,” explains The Pillar. According to leaked text messages, she texted the Cardinal in 2017 asking for help rehabilitating her reputation and also presented herself to prosecutors in 2020 with an offer to cooperate with any investigation into the former Substitute. However, no matter how “surreal” the Chaouqui/Perlasca saga gets, it will have little bearing on the final verdict in Becciu’s case,” The Pillar adds, highlighting another important revelation that emerged in the last weeks. The Italian police have identified documents apparently forged by a Sardinian Catholic charity run by Becciu’s brother, which the Cardinal is accused of contributing to financially with Church money. “Becciu has denied the money he sent to members of his family is anything other than ‘normal practice,’ and said that he’d never allow a ‘single cent’ of Church funds to be misused. But he is now facing a mounting paper trail suggesting otherwise — whatever the judges choose to make of Chaouqi’s collaboration with Perlasca,” The Pillar explains. 

The Pillar, English  

2A Ukrainian Nativity scene in the Vatican Nativity Scenes Exhibition

The Vatican’s international exhibition 100 Nativity Scenes is back for its fifth edition! This annual event gathers works from artists from all over the world, as they express their creativity by representing Nativity scenes in a huge variety of styles, and using many different media. The exhibition takes place beneath the famous colonnade of St. Peter’s Square. This year, 120 nativity scenes will be on display, coming from various European countries, such as Ukraine, Hungary, Malta, Slovenia, Slovakia and Croatia, and from around the world, such as from Taiwan, Venezuela and Guatemala. Many of these nations are represented by their respective embassies to the Holy See, which promote the event in their home countries. The challenges and crises of the current world have clearly touched the sensitivity and imagination of this year’s crib artists. In fact, this year’s edition will feature nativity scenes created in war zones, such as the one created in Ukraine by Sister Theodosia Polotniuk, from the Donetsk exarchate. The Nativity is represented in the basement of a structure reminiscent of the Azovstal iron and steel plant in Mariupol. The nativity scenes also include artifacts that highlight the climate emergency and the migration crisis in the Mediterranean, such as the one created by the Fondazione Romana Villa Maraini Onlus, a rehabilitation home for young drug addicts. There will also be works made by various Italian associations, including ATAC, the company which administers Rome’s chaotic public transportation system, which will exhibit a crib in a red bus. The exhibition will be open for five weeks, from Thursday, December 8, 2022, to Sunday, January 8, 2023, from 10 am to 7:30 pm, every day. The exhibition will be inaugurated on Thursday, December 8 at 4 p.m. by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, along with members of the Dicastery for Evangelization. A representative of the Ukrainian Embassy to the Holy See will be present, and some members of the community will add to the event with traditional Ukrainian Christmas carols.

Roma sociale, Italian

3. Ukraine: a pivot in Francis’ position? 

The Vatican expert Sandro Magister analyzes Pope Francis’ recent remarks on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict as a pivot in his position. 

Settimo Cielo, English

4. An analysis of the Rupnik case, accused of abuse 

A former assistant of the Holy See Press Office analyzes the case of Jesuit Father Ivan Rupnik, accused of abuse.

Korazym, Italian 

5. Congolese Nobel Peace Prize winner will visit the Vatican

The Congolese Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege will be received by Pope Francis on Friday, less than two months before the Pontiff’s visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Media Congo, French 

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