An Italian court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Cardinal Angelo Becciu which alleged that unfavorable media coverage cost him his chance to be pope. After recent legal setbacks in two lawsuits, the cardinal is ordered to pay thousands in damages and court costs.
Italian journalists reported Wednesday that Becciu’s lawsuit against Italian newsmagazine L’Espresso has been dismissed in a civil court of Sanssari, in Sardinia. A judge ordered the cardinal to pay the magazine’s legal costs..
Becciu filed suit against L’Espresso in November 2020, weeks after he was sacked from his curial positions by Pope Francis and ordered to resign his rights as a cardinal.
The cardinal’s lawsuit claimed L’Espresso’s coverage of the financial scandal at the Secretariat of State had contributed unfairly to the pope’s decision to fire Becciu, damaged his reputation, and cost Becciu the chance of being elected pope in a future conclave. The cardinal had sought 10 million euros in damages from the publication.
Neither the full text of the decision nor the amount Becciu will have to pay in that case have been released by the court.
But the verdict in Sardinia is the second legal setback for the cardinal in as many weeks.
A court in Como ordered Becciu to pay nearly 50,000 euros in legal costs and damages Nov. 11, over a lawsuit he filed against his former deputy at the Vatican Secretariat of State, Msgr. Alberto Perlasca.
In a secondary ruling this month, the judge found the cardinal liable for abusing the legal process in trying to sue Perlasca, who is the star witness for the prosecution in Vatican City, where Becciu is one of ten defendants on trial for financial crimes.
Becciu is accused in the Vatican trial of abuse of office, embezzlement, and conspiracy. He is also charged with attempting to suborn the testimony of Perlasca.
When he filed suit against Perlasca, Becciu sought half a million euros from his former deputy for injury to the cardinal’s health and lifestyle, allegedly caused by Perlasca’s cooperation with Vatican investigators.
Judge Lorenzo Azzi ruled last year that there was “no concrete harmful conduct in the plaintiff's narrative” and found Becciu’s claims of harm “completely lacking in any … quantification” that would justify the damages he sought.
The judge’s ordered this month directed Becciu to pay 40,000 euro in court costs to Perlasca and Genoveffa Ciferri, a friend of Perlasca’s named in Becciu’s lawsuit. The cardinal was also ordered to pay his former deputy 9,000 euros in damages.
According to leaked footage of Perlasca’s interviews with Vatican prosecutors, the monsignor confirmed that, acting on instructions from Becciu, he helped arrange money transfers amounting to more than half a million euros to Cecilia Marogna, the self-styled geo-political analyst who claims to have worked as a personal spy for Becciu while he was at the Secretariat of State.
On one occasion, Perlasca said, he prepared an envelope with nearly 15,000 euros in cash for the cardinal, but that he did not know to whom the money was going — only that Becciu told him the transfers had been approved by Pope Francis personally.
Perlasca told Vatican prosecutors that Becciu “became very angry” with him for discussing the money transfers, and had demanded to know why he had not deleted records of the transactions from secretariat records.
Becciu’s trial at the Vatican remains ongoing.