Giovanni Angelo Becciul 2018 with Pope Francis
Photo: TONY GENTILE / REUTERS
Cardinal Angelo Becciu has resigned from his position as Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Saints and Beatifications.
He also renounces his rights as a cardinal.
The Vatican's press office announced this unusual step by a top man of the Catholic Church on Thursday.
No reason was given for the 72-year-old Italian's withdrawal.
Media reports brought the move in connection with a scandal over an investment by the Vatican in a luxury property in central London.
The message only said that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation on Thursday.
A cardinal's resignation is extremely rare.
At first it was not entirely clear whether Becciu would at least keep the title, if not the rights.
As a rule, according to experts, discharge from this status is not planned within the church.
When asked about his withdrawal, the former church diplomat of the Italian news agency Adnkronos said only: "I prefer to remain silent."
In a previous position at the State Secretariat, the central bureaucracy of the Vatican, Becciu oversaw the controversial real estate business that, according to media reports, cost the Holy See millions of euros in payments to middlemen.
Vatican prosecutors have been investigating the case for some time.
In June, investigators arrested Gianluigi Torzi, a London-based Italian financier.
Becciu denies any wrongdoing
He was reportedly acting as a middleman when the Vatican attempted to gain full control of the property.
Torzi, who denies any wrongdoing, has been charged with extortion, embezzlement, serious fraud and money laundering.
He was released on bail a few days later.
Becciu has always insisted on his innocence and claimed to have acted in the sole interests of the Holy See.
He was not responsible for the business in question.
According to media reports, Becciu would be the highest-ranking church official who had to give up his offices in the Vatican due to a financial scandal.
Although normally rare, it is now the second resignation of a cardinal in 2020. In March, the French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin resigned in connection with the alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the church by a priest.
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