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Pope appoints new Chief of Vatican Sainthood Department

Rome, Oct. 15, 2020

Pope Francis has appointed a new chief of the Vatican’s sainthood department, a post left vacant three weeks ago by the resignation of disgraced Cardinal Angelo Becciu.

Italian Bishop Marcello Semeraro will be the new Prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, the Vatican said in a Thursday statement.

Semeraro was until now bishop of Albano, a lakeside town some 25 kilometres south-east of Rome, and secretary of the committee of cardinals drafting a reform of the Curia, the Vatican bureaucracy.

Becciu resigned as prefect and gave up his cardinal rights on Sept. 24, after the Pope accused him of using Vatican charity funds to help a cooperative run by his brother.

The cardinal, who admitted the payment but insists it was legitimate, had access to the funds in his previous role as second-in-command at the Secretariat of State, the Vatican’s main office.

The cardinal has not been charged by Vatican prosecutors, but his dramatic ouster has renewed scrutiny over the Vatican’s murky financial affairs.

On Monday, Italian police arrested Cecilia Marogna, a woman who allegedly conducted secret intelligence work for Becciu and received 500,000 euros from him (587,000 dollars).

She is wanted by the Vatican for embezzlement, amid reports that she used almost half of the money to buy luxury goods such as designer handbags and perfume.

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