Cardinal Reveals that Pope Francis Authorized up to $1 Million Euros to Free Kidnapped Nun from Al Qaeda Group in Mali

Cardinal Angelo Becciu testified that Pope Francis authorized spending up to 1 million euros to free a Colombian nun kidnapped by Al Qaeda-linked militants in Mali.  He revealed previously secret papal approval to hire a British security firm to find the nun and secure her freedom. 

Cardinal Becciu is one of 10 people accused in the Vatican’s financial fraud trial. The trial began due to the Holy See’s 350 million euro investment in a London property and expanded to cover other alleged crimes.

Cardinal Becciu declared his "absolute innocence", as well as his regret at having been exposed to a "pillory public of world proportion ". 

Ransom payments are rarely if ever confirmed, to avoid future kidnappings, and it’s not known how much, if any, Vatican money actually ended up in the hands of the kidnappers. 

In Becciu's statement: Cecilia Marogna, the manager of Cagliari (also accused) presented to him as an intelligence expert and aspiring collaborator of the Holy See to free religious kidnapped in difficult territories. La Marogna met the cardinal in 2016 and he immediately had a "good impression", seeing her as particularly "competent", with good knowledge in the Vatican and among the Italian secret services. The "lady" proposed herself as an intermediary for the release of Sister Gloria Cecilia Navaes Goti, a Colombian Franciscan kidnapped in Mali in 2017. "She told me about an English intelligence agency, Inkerman, with which she could have interacted profitably by working for all the operations necessary for the release of Sister Gloria ". Becciu informed the Pope that he "was happy" and "immediately understood the need not to expose the Vatican to useless, and indeed harmful, publicity". "He gave me the authorization to proceed and, to my explicit question if I had to talk about it with the Commander of the Gendarmerie, he replied no, adding that the matter had to remain confidential between him and me," said Becciu. The nun was actually released on 21 October 2021. Through Marogna, payments were made to different accounts from time to time. The expenses were aimed at the release of the nun, but, according to the accusation, the manager used a good part of the money to buy luxury clothing, accessories and furniture.