Disgraced cardinal denies wrong-doing, says ready to give life to pope

VATICAN CITY — An Italian cardinal forced to quit his powerful Vatican post, said on Friday Pope Francis had accused him of embezzlement, but he denied wrongdoing and vowed he was ready to lay down his life for the pontiff.

Speaking to reporters the day after his shock ousting, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu said he had had a “surreal” meeting with the pope, who had accused him of nepotism and financial malpractice.

“I was white in he face. Certainly it was not a good moment. It was like a bolt out of the blue.” Becciu said, adding that he had not enriched his brothers.

“I will never betray the pope and am ready to give my life for him,” he said.

In a brief statement on Thursday, the Vatican said Pope Francis had accepted Becciu’s resignation as head of the department that decides who will be the saints of the Roman Catholic Church. It also said he had given up the rights associated with being a cardinal.

Becciu said the pope had told him “‘I no longer have trust in you’.” (Reporting by Phillip Pullella; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

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