Thursday, July 04, 2024

Ex-Vatican auditor: Cardinal Pell's death "shrouded in mystery"

former Vatican auditor Libero Milone ...

The former Vatican auditor, Libero Milone, has described the death of Cardinal George Pell as "shrouded in mystery". 

"At his funeral, at his coffin, I promised him that we would bring the truth to light," said Milone according to a report in the newspaper "The Australian" on Wednesday (local time). 

The economic expert thus hinted at a connection between Pell's death and the property scandal in the Vatican. 

According to research by the Australian media outlet, there had been rumours in the Vatican for months about the last hours of Pell's life due to the unusual handling of his body. 

After the autopsy, his body was said to have been left "in disarray" rather than being prepared as is usually the case. 

After a routine hip joint operation on 10 January 2023 in Rome's Salvator Mundi Hospital, the Australian former curial cardinal died as a result of complications.

According to the newspaper, unnamed sources close to the Vatican claimed that the hospital's video surveillance was switched off at the time of Pell's death. 

A corresponding enquiry to the hospital had not been answered. There are also rumours that no doctor was available at the time of Pell's death. 

After the operation, 81-year-old Pell initially woke up in a stable condition and died somewhat unexpectedly a short time later from cardiac arrest.

In addition, Pell had been urged by close friends in the Vatican to have the medical procedure on his hip performed in Rome rather than in Australia. 

According to the newspaper, it is unusual that he was operated on in the private Salvator Mundi Hospital and not in the Gemelli Clinic, which is close to the Vatican. 

The Gemelli Hospital is the university hospital of a Catholic university in Rome. 

High-ranking Vatican employees are usually treated there.  

Pope Francis has also often stayed at the Gemelli Clinic for treatment.

After serving as Archbishop of Melbourne and Archbishop of Sydney, Pell was Prefect of the newly created Secretariat for Economic Affairs of the Curia from 2014 to 2019. 

In 2003, he was elevated to Cardinal by Pope John Paul II. From 2013 to 2018, Pell was a member of the Council of Cardinals, a close advisory body to Pope Francis. 

After the first allegations of cover-up abuse against Pell emerged in 2008, the Australian police launched an investigation into the sexual abuse of children by the cardinal during his time as a priest and archbishop in Australia in 2017. 

In 2018, Pell was found guilty, which was confirmed by an appeals court a year later. 

In 2020, however, this judgement against the cardinal was overturned by Australia's highest court due to a lack of evidence. 

Pell was imprisoned for over a year as an innocent man.

As an auditor for the Vatican, Milone was a close collaborator of Pell in the reorganisation of the church state's finances in the Vatican Secretariat for Economic Affairs. 

In 2017, Milone and another Vatican employee were dismissed by Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, then deputy of the Secretariat of State. 

The move was made in connection with the property scandal that has since been brought before Vatican courts. 

Becciu was sentenced to five and a half years in prison and a fine for fraud and embezzlement in 2023. 

Milone had sued the Secretariat of State for more than nine million euros in damages due to his dismissal, but the lawsuit was dismissed by a Vatican court in January 2024

Milone announced that he would appeal. 

The former auditor sees himself as a victim of corruption and conflicts of interest in the Vatican.