— Rome — Pope Francis reportedly celebrated Mass of The Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, in the private chapel of Cardinal Angelo Becciu — the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints — who resigned in disgrace last year on suspicion of financial impropriety. Pope Francis also stripped Becciu of the rights associated with his rank, but let him keep his cardinal’s red hat. Cardinal Becciu has repeatedly and forcefully denied wrongdoing.
Several news reports say Pope Francis celebrated this afternoon around 5:30pm Rome Time in Cardinal Becciu’s private chapel, inside the cardinal’s apartment in the Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio — the headquarters of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — a stone’s throw from the Domus Sanctae Marthae guesthouse where Pope Francis has lived since his election to the papacy just over eight years ago.
Pope Francis did not celebrate the Missa in coena Domini in St. Peter’s Basilica this year. That duty went to the Dean of the College of Cardinals, 87-year-old Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, who preached a homily on Our Lord’s discourse to His disciples on the day before He made an offering of Himself to the Father for our salvation: “He loved them to the end.”
Several sources confirmed the Pope’s private celebration in Cardinal Becciu’s chapel. Strangely, the official Vatican News website said, “This was a private engagement on the Pope’s part and there is as of yet no official confirmation.” In years past, Pope Francis is widely reported to have taken lunch with Becciu on Holy Thursday, in the company of a few other clerics.
The brief, unofficial item on the Vatican’s official news portal reports that members of Cardinal Becciu’s staff confirmed the news. It further states that members of the Focolare movement were in attendance, as were the religious sisters who assist Cardinal Becciu as domestics.
Cardinal Becciu has been at the centre of controversy surrounding a shady London real estate deal currently under investigation.