By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Thursday with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, according to the cardinal who was fired by the pontiff last September on accusations of embezzlement and nepotism.
Becciu told Italian journalists that the Mass was said in the chapel of the cardinal’s apartment in the Vatican.
Father Angelo Sceppacerca, an aide to the cardinal, confirmed the meeting in a telephone call with Reuters.
The Vatican had no official comment but the official Vatican News website ran a brief article about it.
The Mass took place on Holy Thursday, the day Christians commemorate the founding of the priesthood by Jesus in the Last Supper with his apostles.
Francis had delegated the official Holy Thursday evening Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to another prelate, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re. The Vatican had not given a reason why Francis would not say the Mass himself.
News of the meeting with Francis was as surprising as when the pope fired Becciu suddenly last September.
Becciu said at the time the pope was acting on information given to the pontiff by Vatican and Italian magistrates. Becciu is still under investigation.
The pope fired him as head of the Vatican department that decides who will become Roman Catholic saints and also stripped him of his rights as cardinal, including participation in an eventual conclave to elect a new pope.
Becciu, who has denied allegations of wrongdoing related to contracts the Church gave to his brothers, said last September that the pope had told him at a stormy meeting “I no longer have trust in you”.
Becciu has also been caught up in a Vatican scandal about
using Church money to invest in a luxury building in London. He has denied any wrongdoing in that case too.
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