Vatican Roundup

Vatican Roundup Pope Francis with Bishop Marcello Semeraro
Pope picks Bishop Semeraro to lead sainthood congregation

Pope Francis has named Italian Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, secretary of his Council of Cardinals, to be the new prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. The bishop, 72, succeeds Cardinal Angelo Becciu, whom the Pope forced to resign in late September because of suspicious financial dealings.

Bishop Marco Mellino, who was adjunct secretary of the Council of Cardinals, will take Bishop Semeraro’s place at the council, which Pope Francis established in 2013 to advise him on Church governance and the reform of the Roman Curia.

Announcing Bishop Semeraro’s new Vatican post on October 15, the Vatican also said Pope Francis reconfirmed the membership of the six cardinals currently on the council and that he was adding Congolese Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of Kinshasa.

The six reconfirmed members are: Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Sean P. O’Malley of Boston; Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; and Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State.


Pandemic ‘increases risks of human trafficking’

While the Covid-19 pandemic has shut down or slowed most businesses, it does not appear to have put a dent in human trafficking, said Callista Gingrich, US ambassador to the Holy See.

In fact, the financial difficulties many families face around the world actually make people more vulnerable to traffickers’ offers of quick cash or false promises of good jobs in other lands, said speakers at the US Embassy to the Holy See’s symposium, ‘Combatting Human Trafficking: Action in a Time of Crisis’.

Faith-based organisations “are among some of our best partners” in the push to end trafficking and assist the victims, Ms Gingrich said, pointing specifically to Talitha Kum, the international network involving some 2,600 women religious and their collaborators around the world.

Loreto Sr Patricia Murray, executive secretary of the women’s International Union of Superiors General, said the poor who are susceptible to traffickers are “doubly vulnerable” during the pandemic, when many more families are facing hunger.


Analyst linked to Cardinal Becciu
is arrested

A political analyst allegedly hired as a security consultant by Cardinal Angelo Becciu has been arrested by Italian authorities in Milan, Italian media reported. Cecilia Marogna was arrested on October 13 on suspicion of embezzlement and misappropriation of funds by the Italian financial police after an international warrant was issued by Interpol at the Vatican’s request, according to reports.

She is expected to be extradited to Vatican City to answer the charges, the reports said. The Vatican has issued no statement on the arrest.

Cardinal Becciu, the former prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, was asked to retire on September 24 by Pope Francis. The cardinal said the Pope mentioned allegations that he embezzled Vatican funds, diverting them to a charitable organisation run by his brother.

Italian and inter-national media have reported several questionable financial transactions the cardinal allegedly made with Vatican funds during the time he was sostituto – chief of staff – in the Vatican Secretariat of State from 2011 to 2018.