Italian cardinal denies shady Vatican bank deal

A powerful Italian cardinal on Tuesday denied a report that he pressured the Vatican bank while it was under his supervision in 2012 into making a suspicious investment in a friend's television production company.

Italian cardinal denies shady Vatican bank deal
Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's former secretary of state. Photo: Wikipedia

Germany's Bild Zeitung newspaper said the Vatican was investigating a €15 million purchase of convertible bonds by the Vatican bank in the Italian company Lux Vide owned by Ettore Bernabei.

The 79-year-old Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's former secretary of state and then head of the bank's oversight committee of cardinals told Adnkronos news agency that the deal with Lux Vide had been regularly approved.

"The IOR convention with the company Lux Vide was discussed and approved by the committee of cardinals and by the supervisory board at a meeting on December 4th, 2013 as shown by the minutes," Bertone was quoted as saying.

The ANSA news agency also quoted Bertone as saying that there was "no problem linked to this operation".

"I don't understand these attacks," he said, adding: "I am in harmony with the pope. I feel relaxed".

The Vatican's Financial Information Authority on Monday said 202 suspicious transactions had been reported in 2013 due to increased controls at the Vatican bank – the Institute for Religious Works – compared to six in 2012.

Contacted by AFP, the Vatican press office and Lux Vide declined to comment. The press service for the bank, the Institute for Religious Works, could not be reached.

Bertone was criticised last month over reports that he was moving into a 600-square-metreVatican apartment in apparent contradiction with Pope Francis's call for a "poor Church for the poor".

The cardinal defended himself by saying that he was paying for the renovation work on the apartment out of his own pocket and that the size of the apartment had been exaggerated and was in fact around 300 square metres.

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Pope appoints French woman to senior synod post

Pope Francis has broken with Catholic tradition to appoint a woman as an undersecretary of the synod of bishops, the first to hold the post with voting rights in a body that studies major questions of doctrine.

Pope appoints French woman to senior synod post
Pope Francis has appointed Nathalie Becquart as undersecretary of the synod of bishops. She is the first woman to hold the post. Photo: AFP

Frenchwoman Nathalie Becquart is one of the two new undersecretaries named on Saturday to the synod, where she has been a consultant since 2019.

The appointment signals the pontiff's desire “for a greater participation of women in the process of discernment and decision-making in the church”, said Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary-general of the synod.

“During the previous synods, the number of women participating as experts and listeners has increased,” he said.

“With the nomination of Sister Nathalie Becquart and her possibility of participating in voting, a door has opened.”

The synod is led by bishops and cardinals who have voting rights and also comprises experts who cannot vote, with the next gathering scheduled for autumn 2022.

A special synod on the Amazon in 2019 saw 35 female “auditors” invited to the assembly, but none could vote.

The Argentinian-born pope has signalled his wish to reform the synod and have women and laypeople play a greater role in the church.

He named Spaniard Luis Marin de San Martin as the other under undersecretary in the synod of bishops.

Becquart, 52, a member of the France-based Xaviere Sisters, has a master's degree in management from the prestigious HEC business school in Paris and studied in Boston before joining the order.