On Tuesday evening, Cardinal George Pell left Sydney International Airport and arrived at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport in Fiumicino a day later.
Wearing a blue face mask, he made no comments to reporters but instead waved before getting into a car – presumably to go to the Vatican, despite not much being said about Pell’s agenda: how long, why he’s there, and if or when he will meet Pope Francis is being kept close to the chest.
On the day of his arrival, however, Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported that Vatican investigators had discovered that 26 million dollars had been withdrawn from an account reserved for personal use by Pope Francis.
Pell’s return comes days after resigned-cardinal Becciu left his office and resigned the rights of the cardinalate following his connection to ongoing investigations of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and other financial crimes at the Vatican.
Pell welcomed Becciu’s resignation, saying he hopes “the cleaning of the stables continues in both the Vatican and Victoria.”
“The Holy Father was elected to clean up Vatican finances. He plays a long game and is to be thanked and congratulated on recent developments.”
Pell also arrived the same day Moneyval, Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering watchdog, began a two week long on-site audit of the Holy See and the Vatican.
A Vatican statement said the “scope of this phase of evaluations is to assess the effectiveness of the legislative and institutional measures adopted by the jurisdictions in recent years for the prevention of money laundering and the financing of terrorism.”
Carmelo Barbagallo, president of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, described the inspection as especially important.”
“Its outcome may determine how the jurisdiction of the Vatican is perceived by the financial community.”