Embroiled in a controversial property deal, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, a senior Vatican official, resigned unexpectedly on Friday, the Holy See said.
Cardinal Becciu was involved in a deal to buy a luxury London property with church funds, apparently as an investment. The highly controversial deal was subsequently the subject of a financial investigation. The cardinal has denied any wrongdoing.
A statement from the Holy See said: “The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and from the rights connected to the Cardinalate, presented by His Eminence Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu.”
Cardinal Becciu was previously the Substitute for General Affairs - the second most senior official - in the Vatican’s powerful Secretariat of State for six years.
In this position, he met with the Pope daily and was one of his most trusted aides.
It was also during this period that the property deal scandal took place. The building was located in London’s lavish Sloane Avenue.
It was paid for with offshore funds and the Secretariat’s offices were raided last year. Vatican police seized documents and computers and five of the Secretariat’s staff members.
Cardinal Becciu was named a cardinal in 2018. Despite his resignation, he will keep his title. He will not, however, be able to vote for the next Pope.