Sunday, July 07, 2024

Close ‘confidante’ says Cardinal Pell’s nose broken when body sent to Australia by the Vatican

former Vatican auditor Libero Milone ...

A close confidante of Cardinal George Pell has attested that the late cardinal’s nose was broken and his body treated with “gross disrespect,” upon the arrival of his body in Australia from the Vatican.

In a July 4 program, Sky News Australia host Andrew Bolt commented on what he called a “final insult to a great and innocent man,” namely Cardinal Pell. Bolt said that he had “promised not to reveal what I know to spare Pell’s grieving family,” but that following recent comments made by the Vatican’s ex-auditor general Libero Milone to The Australian – and after checking with Pell’s brother David – he was free to share “most” of his information.

A “Pell confidante at the opening of the coffin” after the Vatican sent Pell’s body to Australia for burial reportedly found that Pell had been treated with “gross disrespect,” said Bolt.

“Perhaps it was just incompetence, but some of Pell’s closest associates have told me they suspected some in the Vatican had not forgiven Pell for exposing corruption,” Bolt continued.

Pell’s brother David told Bolt on July 3 that “the embalming… had been mucked up, or buggered up.”

“A Sydney undertaker had to clean the body – Pell’s nose had also been broken. Pell was also shoeless,” Bolt said that David Pell had confided.

Bolt continued: In fact, I’d been told he wasn’t only shoeless – all his clothes had simply been just thrown in the coffin… The Vatican should now be deeply, deeply ashamed to have treated his body so shabbily.

Pell died on January 10, 2023 after reportedly suffering a cardiac arrest following “routine hip replacement surgery,” an operation which was itself successful. 

As noted by Veteran Vaticanista Edward Pentin at the time of Pell’s death, the hip surgery had proceeded well and the cardinal had been “in good spirits, chatting with hospital staff” after the operation before succumbing to the reported cardiac arrest.

The cardinal’s death came as a huge shock to his close friends and to the Church at large. Some of his confidants, including Cardinal Raymond Burke, had urged him to return to Australia for his surgery rather than have the procedure done in Rome – something which Burke has mentioned a number of times in subsequent interviews. However, Pell chose to remain in Rome and undergo surgery at the Salvator Mundi hospital, citing his cardinal’s duty to be present at the Vatican. 

Bolt added that the treatment of Pell’s body suggested his enemies in the Vatican were still at large.

“Pell once told me didn’t feel safe in the Vatican as he chased the thieves,” Bolt recounted.  “He hid documents in London and Sydney. What was done to him after his death makes me suspect he was right.”

The Sky News host’s comments came in light of an interview given to The Australian on July 2, in which Libero Milone revealed his concerns about circumstances surrounding the sudden death of Pell. 

Milone worked alongside Pell to reform the Vatican finances, and told The Australian that the cardinal’s death is “shrouded in mystery.”

Milone – hired as the first auditor general for the Vatican in 2015 – said that when paying his respects to the late cardinal in Rome, he had made a promise to “get to the truth.”

Since the initial publication of this report by LifeSiteNews, Milone has clarified to this correspondent that this phrase referred to finding out the cause for Milone’s forced resignation in 2017, and that he did not mean it in reference to an investigation into Pell’s death. Another source close to the late Cardinal Pell suggested to this correspondent that The Australian had collated speculation from other sources and attributed it to Milone.

The Australian wrote that it had asked the hospital “to comment on claims by senior sources that internal CCTV cameras were not working on and around January 10 last year and that no medical doctor was on duty the evening the cardinal died.” 

LifeSite sent its own enquiries to hospital management and lead clinicians to comment on such reports, and also asked about the details of Pell’s final autopsy. Neither The Australian nor LifeSiteNews received a response. 

Indeed, this silence around the details of Pell’s death is somewhat of a trend. Pentin stated that he had asked the hospital similar questions “some months ago” but had received no response. 

As highlighted by The Australian, “rumours have swirled around the Holy See for months that Pell’s body was left in post-autopsy disarray and not been properly dressed, sparking further concerns about his last hours.”

The Australian also reported that Pell’s coffin being closed during his wake, rather than open, raised eyebrows.

Milone is having his first day in Vatican appeals court to challenge the January ruling against him as part of his ongoing legal battle attesting that he was unjustly fired in 2017.

Pell was named by Pope Francis as first prefect of the newly established Secretariat for the Economy in February 2014. He swiftly set about implementing reforms to the financial system within the Vatican, and according to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi – as recounted in Henry Sire’s The Dictator Pope – Pell announced in February 2015 that he had found “€1.4 billion” which was unaccounted for in the Vatican’s balance sheets.

Milone, along with his recently-deceased deputy Ferrucio Panicco, worked alongside Pell to reform the Vatican finances, at the express wish of Pope Francis. 

The Australian cardinal’s investigations made him no friends in the Vatican, and, according to widespread reports, earned him opposition from key personnel, including former number two in the Secretariat of State, Cardinal Angelo Becciu. In December, Becciu was sentenced to 5 and a half years in jail by the Vatican over financial crimes; he has yet to serve any time in jail. 

Such opposition to Pell’s reforms has even been linked to the false allegations of sexual abuse made against Pell – again with reports of Becciu’s involvement – for which Pell was imprisoned for over 400 days in his native Australia, before being unanimously acquitted in 2020.

Together with Pell, Milone was apparently “increasingly effective” in the investigations into the Vatican finances, and “came too close to uncovering dangerous things.”

Milone and Panicco were abruptly fired in 2017, and in a prior $9.25 million suit against the Vatican Secretariat of State they argued that they were unjustly accused of spying and embezzlement in June 2017 by Becciu: accusations which, they argue, stemmed from their audit of Vatican finances which uncovered widespread corruption within the hierarchy of the Holy See.

Milone has continually insisted that Becciu’s accusations against him and Panicco are absolutely false. 

He has also consistently argued that the accusations were the result of his audit uncovering uncomfortable financial corruption like the infamous London apartment deal which cost the Vatican hundreds of millions of euros, investments in pharmaceutical companies that produced abortifacients and contraceptives, contrary to the Church’s moral doctrine, embezzlement by high-ranking cardinals and officials, and money laundering conducted by the Secretariat of State and the Vatican Bank.

“I was threatened with arrest,” Milone said of his forced resignation. “The head of the Gendarmerie [the Vatican police] intimidated me to force me to sign a resignation letter that they had already prepared weeks in advance.”

In a curious coincidence of timing, only days after Milone went public with his revelations about his sudden departure from the Vatican, it was announced that Pell was to face charges for allegations of historic sexual abuse in his native Australia. 

Milone’s complex court cases have not gone well so far. In January – as reported by LifeSiteNews – the Vatican court ruled against him, a ruling which he is now appealing. His appeal began July 3, with the Vatican’s lawyers arguing that no-one acting in the name of the Secretariat of State was involved in Milone and Pannicco’s firing. 

In a press briefing in June prior to his appeal hearing, Milone stated that “seven years have passed without any tangible results and when we submitted our legal request we found ourselves in front of a rubber wall.” 

The former auditor general intends to take his case to the Hague if necessary, stating recently that seeking justice is in the best interests of all involved.