A second Vatican official says the pope is paying a ransom for the nuns

VATICAN CITY — Another senior Holy See official told a Vatican court on Friday that Pope Francis had authorized the payment of hundreds of thousands of euros in ransom to free a nun kidnapped by al-Qaeda-linked militants in Mali.

Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, the Holy See’s No. 3 member, told the Vatican tribunal that shortly after he joined the Secretariat of State in late 2018 as his “deputy,” he sought and received Francis’ approval to transfer the money. .

Pena Parra answered questions on Friday for the second day after being called by defense lawyers representing 10 people on trial for alleged financial crimes.

One tangent to the Vatican trial concerns €575,000 transferred from a Vatican Swiss Bank account to a Slovenian shell company owned by Cecilia Marogna, a self-proclaimed security analyst hired in 2016 by Pena Parra’s predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Becciu. external consultant.

Becciu told the court last year that he sought Marogna’s advice in 2017 after Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez was kidnapped by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which bankrolled the insurgency by kidnapping Westerners. While in captivity in Mali, the group occasionally showed Narvaez on video asking the Vatican for help.

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Becciu told the court that Francis had authorized spending up to 1 million euros to free the Colombian nun. Becciu said he and Marogna traveled to London to meet with British security firm Inkerman and subsequently hire Narvaez and secure his freedom. He was finally released in October 2021.

In their indictment, prosecutors alleged a double payment: around 500,000 British pounds, equivalent to 575,000 euros, were transferred to the Inkerman Barklays Bank account for the operation. Separately, they listed nine payments from the Vatican Swiss Bank account, totaling €575,000, sent to Marogna’s Logsic DOO between December 20, 2018 and July 8, 2019. Citing Slovenian bank records, prosecutors allege that Marogna used the money to buy high-end. luxury goods and go on holiday.

Both Becciu and Marogna are accused of embezzlement, the accusations are denied by both.

Pena Parra, who replaced Becciu, told the court that he was faced with the request of his deputy, Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, whom Becciu asked to process the electronic transfer to the Slovenian account. But Pena Parra said he could not move forward without first getting the pope’s approval.

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“I went to the Pope. I asked for an audience and the Holy Father confirmed for me the destination of this money, which was aimed at the issue of the possible freedom of the Colombian nun kidnapped in Mali,” Pena Parra said during the interrogation of the president of the tribunal, Judge Giuseppe Pignatone.

For his part, Becciu insisted in a spontaneous statement to the court on Friday that Francis had approved the surgery and was ready to write a statement in Becciu’s defense when they spoke by phone on July 19, 2021, days before the trial. open.

Prosecutors recently initiated an exchange of letters between Becciu and Francis in the following days, in which Francis refused to make a statement. Becciu posted a letter on Friday informing him that Francis himself had asked Becciu to submit a draft statement, and the cardinal suggested that his subsequent refusal to draft the statement appeared to be well-intentioned.

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Source: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/2nd-vatican-official-pope-okd-ransom-payments-nun-97943174