VATICAN CITY — A second high-ranking Holy See official told a Vatican court Friday that Pope Francis had authorized spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in ransom payments to try to free a nun who was kidnapped by al-Qaida-linked militants in Mali.
Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, the Holy See’s No. 3, told the Vatican tribunal that he had sought and received Francis’ approval to wire the money soon after he took up his duties as the “substitute” in the secretariat of state in late 2018.
Pena Parra was answering questions for a second day Friday after being called by defense attorneys representing the 10 people on trial for a host of alleged financial crimes.
One tangent of the Vatican trial concerns $619,591.25 wired from the Vatican’s Swiss Bank account to a Slovenian-based front company owned by Cecilia Marogna, a self-styled security analyst who was hired in 2016 by Pena Parra’s predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, as an outside consultant.
Becciu told the court last year that he had sought Marogna’s advice in 2017 following the kidnapping of Sister Gloria Cecilia Narvaez by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. During her captivity in Mali, the group periodically showed Narvaez on video asking for the Vatican’s help.
Becciu told the court that Francis had authorized spending up to $1.07 million to free the Colombian nun.