A senior Vatican cardinal has suddenly resigned in the face of a financial scandal that has implicated him indirectly.
A statement from the Holy Sea did not provide details of why Cardinal Angelo Becciu stepped down on Thursday.
But the one-line remark only confirmed that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of the Cardinal, who occupied the position of head of the Vatican’s powerful saint-making office.
The Vatican is investigating the secretariat’s use of church money to purchase a luxury investment property in the UK, during which time Cardinal Becciu was the deputy secretary of state. His tenure in that office ended in 2018.
The Cardinal has denied all wrongdoing in the London property deal and defended the purchase.
In Thursday’s resignation statement, he said he was renouncing his rights as a cardinal.
At seventy-two years of age, Cardinal Becciu would have been able to participate in a possible future conclave to elect Pope Francis’s successor.
But in renouncing his rights as a cardinal, he has relinquished that position, analysts say.
The last cardinal to give up that right was Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland, who resigned over a sex scandal in 2013.
Following the discovery of the latest scandal, the Vatican prosecutor placed several Vatican officials under investigation, but not Cardinal Becciu.
That probe led to the suspension last year of five Vatican employees, the resignation of the Vatican’s police chief and the departure of the former head of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority.