Pope Francis this afternoon accepted the resignation presented by the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu.
In addition, according to the Vatican in a brief statement, the resignation also includes the loss of all rights linked to the cardinal.
Something completely unusual, probably demanded by the Pontiff himself because of the alleged involvement of the cardinal in a real estate corruption scandal in London and for some derivatives that led to diversion of funds to the cardinal's relatives, as published yesterday by the weekly
The Holy See has not provided further explanations.
But whether it is a resignation -as Becciu's own protest, as some sources point out- or a forced dismissal by the Pontiff, the measure is one of unusual violence seen only in cases of very serious crimes.
The rights as cardinal have only been withdrawn to two cardinals in the 21st century (Keith O'Brien and Theodore McCarrick) and to one in the 20th century, always for reasons related to child abuse or strong doctrinal discrepancies (Louis Billot) that questioned authority in the Church.
In two of those cases the full cardinalate was withdrawn, something that is not clear to Becciu now, who would formally keep the cardinal's cap.
In any case, the most important right that a cardinal under 80 has is to participate in a conclave for the election of the future Pope.
And this cardinal has already lost that.
Becciu, a man with great influence in the curia and who has featured in all the pools in recent years on the name of the next pope, was splashed in an investigation into the sale of a building in London and the way the Vatican he financed that purchase when he was the substitute for the Secretary of State (a position in the center of the Vatican engine room that in the chain of command would be like number three).
The operation cost around 300 million euros and was carried out through a series of intermediaries who charged millionaire commissions and who reserved the power to block future movements despite the fact that they had not contributed practically capital.
The Vatican Prosecutor's Office seized documents and electronic devices in February from the offices of a former senior official of the Secretary of State, Alberto Perlasca, former head of the Administrative Office of the First Section of the Secretary of State.
On June 5, the Vatican authorities arrested Italian financier Gianluigi Torzi, accused of crimes such as extortion, money laundering and fraud, within the framework of this investigation.
Becciu always denied his involvement or any bad faith in an operation that was carried out with the funds from the Obolus of San Pedro, theoretically destined to support the causes of the poor and the management of the Church.
The cardinal argued that this money had to be reinvested so that the real estate operation that was presented in London was evaluated and it appeared as a good way to keep that capital active.
Becciu assured that he always acted with the knowledge of his superiors.
And there were only two people above him in the Vatican.
Sources close to the cardinal explained in his day to this newspaper that the cardinal had the impression of being subjected to an execution by the different currents that are fighting and the control of decisions in the next conclave.