Pope Francis celebrates Maundy Thursday mass with the cardinal he fired
By Elise Ann Allen
ROME (Crux) – In a surprise gesture, Pope Francis celebrated on Holy Thursday, April 1, the Lord’s Supper Mass – one of the most sacred liturgies in the Catholic calendar – in the private apartment of Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who resigned his post earlier this year at the direct request of the pontiff.
According to an article published on the Italian news site “Faro di Roma” by veteran Vatican journalist Francesco Grana, the pontiff celebrated mass in the chapel of Cardinal Becciu’s apartment at 5.30 p.m. on Thursday Rome time, around one hour later. half an hour before the Vatican. his own celebration began, which Pope Francis did not attend.
A Vatican source told Crux about mass at Cardinal Becciu’s apartment, saying that if they can’t talk about the Holy Father’s private commitments, “a gesture of fatherhood like this on a day like this here, Maundy Thursday, does not seem strange to me. “
Speculation arose earlier this week when the Vatican released its Holy Week program, with Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, dean of the College of Cardinals, due to celebrate Thursday’s “Coena Domini” mass in place of Pope Francis , despite the fact that he is traditionally a pope. liturgy.
Pope Francis has skipped several major liturgies since the start of the year due to outbreaks of sciatica.
Cardinal Becciu, the pontiff’s former chief of staff, was asked by Pope Francis in September to resign both from his post as head of the Vatican’s Department of Saints and from his duties and responsibilities as cardinal.
No reason for the unusual move was given. However, in an impromptu press conference the next day, Cardinal Becciu said he had been accused of embezzlement and as a result the Holy Father had lost confidence in him.
The ouster of Cardinal Becciu has been interpreted by many as an attempt by Pope Francis to act on his continued reform of the Vatican finances, as it is widely believed that Cardinal Becciu is linked to a questionable contract between the Secretariat of State of the Vatican and a posh property of London, as the agreement was reached in 2014, while Cardinal Becciu was still in his role of “sostituto”, effectively chief of staff of the Holy Father.
The deal was negotiated through an Italian financier and drew on funds raised by “Peter’s Pence,” an annual appeal to Catholics around the world as a way to support the activity of the Holy Father, in especially his charities.
Upon his resignation, Cardinal Becciu insisted that the Peter’s Pence fund “was never touched” during the London property transaction and that the incident was not mentioned in his 20-year conversation. minutes with Pope Francis.
According to the report by Faro di Roma, since the start of his pontificate, Pope Francis has spent every Maundy Thursday in Cardinal Becciu’s apartment, with the exception of 2020, when, due to the coronavirus pandemic, he has chose to hold informal meetings in his own apartment with priests in Rome who are often “on the margins of the life of the Curia”.
The pontiff’s decision to celebrate Maundy Thursday Mass this year with Cardinal Becciu, according to the report, was an act intended to show “friendship and closeness.”
A group of nuns who look after Cardinal Becciu’s apartment also attended mass, as did a handful of members of the Focolare movement.