Pope allows hundreds of thousands to pay ransom for kidnapped nun

A second senior Holy See official told a Vatican court on Friday that Pope Francis has authorized hundreds of thousands of euros to be spent on ransom payments to try to free a nun who was kidnapped by al-Qaeda-linked militants in Mali.

Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, third-in-command of the Holy See in the Vatican, told the tribunal that he requested and received Francis’ approval for the money transfer shortly after he assumed his duties as “deputy” at the Secretariat of State in late 2018

Peña Parra was answering questions for a second day on Friday after he received a phone call from defense lawyers representing ten people on trial for a range of alleged financial crimes.

One aspect of the Vatican lawsuit concerns €575,000 transferred from the Vatican’s Swiss bank account to a Slovenian shell company owned by Cecilia Maroña, a self-proclaimed security analyst hired in 2016 by Pena Parra’s predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, as an outside consultant. .

Last year, Becciu told the court that he sought Marone’s advice in 2017 following the kidnapping of Gloria’s sister Cecilia Narvaez by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which financed its insurgency by kidnapping Westerners. During her captivity in Mali, Narváez was intermittently videotaped by the group asking for help from the Vatican.

Becciu told the court that Francis allowed up to 1 million euros to be spent on the release of a Colombian nun. Becciu said that he and Maroña traveled to London to meet with and subsequently hire the British security firm Inkerman to find Narváez and secure her freedom. She was eventually released in October 2021.

In their indictment, prosecutors claimed a double payment: they said that around £500,000, or the then equivalent of €575,000, was sent to Inkerman’s Barklays Bank account for the operation. Separately, they made nine payments from the Vatican’s Swiss bank account for a total of 575,000 euros sent to Marogna Logsic DOO from December 20, 2018 to July 8, 2019.

Citing Slovenian bank records, prosecutors allege that Maroña used the money to buy expensive luxury goods and go on vacation.

Both Bekcu and Maronya are accused of embezzlement, but they both deny the charges.