Giovanni Angelo Becciu

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His Excellency
Giovanni Angelo Becciu
Substitute of the Secretariat of State
Giovanni Angelo Becciu in 2013.jpg
See Rusellae
Appointed 10 May 2011
Predecessor Fernando Filoni
Other posts Titular Archbishop of Rusellae
Ordination 27 August 1972
by Francesco Cogoni,
Bishop of Ozieri
Consecration 1 December 2001
by Angelo Sodano
Personal details
Born (1948-06-02) 2 June 1948 (age 68)
Pattada, Italy
Nationality Italian
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
  • Apostolic Nuncio to Angola (2001-2009)
  • Apostolic Nuncio to São Tomé and Príncipe (2001-2009)
  • Apostolic Nuncio to Cuba (2009-2011)
Styles of
Giovanni Angelo Becciu
Mitre (plain).svg
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Grace
Religious style Monsignor

Giovanni Angelo Becciu (born 2 June 1948) is a prelate of the Roman Catholic Church, an archbishop since 2001. He held several appointments in the diplomatic service of the Holy See between 1984 and 2011, including those of nuncio to Angola and to Cuba. Pope Benedict XVI appointed him Substitute for General Affairs in the Secretariat of State on 10 May 2011, a key position in the Roman Curia in which he fills a role for the pope much like chief of staff.

Early years[edit]

Becciu was born in 1948 in Pattada (Sassari), Sardinia, Italy. After completing his studies in theology and philosophy he was ordained to the priesthood on 27 August 1972. He attended the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, where he earned a doctoral degree in canon law.

In diplomatic service[edit]

He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See on 1 May 1984. He worked at the Pontifical Representations in Central African Republic, Sudan, New Zealand, Liberia, United Kingdom, France and the United States. Becciu knows the French, English, Spanish and Portuguese languages.

On 15 October 2001, Pope John Paul II appointed him Apostolic Nuncio to Angola, at the same time as was customary elevating him as Titular Archbishop of Rusellae. On 15 November of the same year he was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to São Tomé and Principe as well. He received his episcopal consecration on 1 December 2001 from Cardinal Angelo Sodano with co-consecrators Archbishop Paolo Romeo, a Vatican diplomat, and Bishop Sebastiano Sanguinetti from his native diocese in Sardinia. While Nuncio to Angola, in advance of Pope Benedict's arrival there in 2009, he defended the pope's rejection of condoms as a means of preventing the spread of AIDS. He said: "It's too easy and it's very cheap to say the solution of AIDS is the condom, you don't have the solution there.... So what the Pope is saying is that we must surpass this, because AIDS means there is a lack of understanding of the concept of true love between men and women.... Because of that, many times we are not of the same thinking as NGOs."[1] As he left Angola for his next assignment, Becciu denounced popular belief in witchcraft that led to children being accused as sorcerers and abused: "the charges are a frequent practice on the African continent and they must be eliminated".[2][a]

On 23 July 2009 Pope Benedict named him Apostolic Nuncio to Cuba.[4][5] Cuban President Raul Castro praised his work on behalf of improved relations between Cuba and the Holy See.[6] In January 2015, after Cuba and the United States announced mutual efforts to improve their relationship, he supported an end to the U.S. embargo, citing "the right of peoples not to be deprived of daily economic and social subsistence". He credited the thaw in relations to Pope Francis, "the true protagonist, silent but effective". He said he expected the Cuban government to introduced a less centralized economic system and commented: "There will be contradictions, but it will be up to their masterful capabilities to solve them."[7]

Secretariate of State[edit]

On 10 May 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed named Becciu Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, replacing Fernando Filoni.[8] The Substitute for General Affairs reports to the Cardinal Secretary of State. He usually meets with the Pope each day to handle the business of the Roman Curia, and his position is comparable to chief of staff. It had been described as "the most complex job in the Roman Curia" and a key to "the administrative success or failure of a papacy". Though Becciu was viewed as "a genial and effective diplomat", his appointment was unusual in that he lacked experience in the Curia.[9][b]

During the conclave that followed the resignation of Benedict XVI, Becciu was responsible for directing the Vatican personnel who ensured the security and secrecy of its proceedings.[11] A few months after his election as pope, Pope Francis named a new Secretary of State and confirmed Becciu's appointment as Substitute.[12]

In his role as Substitute, he periodically speaks on behalf of the Vatican, addressing specific events in the news while allowing the pope to avoid becoming involved in public debates. When stolen documents about Vatican finances were leaked to the press, Becciu minimized the fact that they demonstrated sharp disagreements between Curial officials. He wrote in 2012 that some "criticize the monarchic and absolutist nature of the church's central government" but then pretend to be "scandalized because someone writing to the pope expresses ideas or even complaints about how that government is organized. Many of the published documents do not reveal power struggles or vendettas, but the freedom of thought which the church is criticized for not allowing."[13] In January 2014, when the retired Commander of the Swiss Guard Elmar Mäder told the Swiss weekly Sonntag that a gay network existed in the Roman Curia, Becciu challenged him to provide specifics: "When he was in service, did he have any suspects? Are these suspects still present? … Okay then, come here and tell us exactly to whom it relates." He condemned "generic accusations" and said careless talk could easily become slander.[14] In January 2016, discussing books that charged the Vatican with financial mismanagement, Becciu defended Vatican employees: "The Vatican is not a den of thieves. To represent it as such constitutes an absolute falsehood. I find it extremely unjust that our employees, proudly carrying out a service for the pope and the church, have gotten to the point, for some time now, of being ashamed to tell people they work here."[15] In December 2016, discussing reactions to Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia on the pastoral care of Catholics in irregular marriages, he said: "I will not go into the controversies but I do wish to reiterate the principles I have always been taught by the healthy tradition of the Church: as the Pope's humble collaborator, I feel I have a duty to loyally tell him what I think when a decision is being taken. Once it is taken, I obey the Holy Father fully."[16]

When a Catholic radio station broadcast a Dominican friar's statement that the enactment of same-sex civil unions had caused recent earthquakes, Becciu said "They are offensive statements for believers and scandalous for those who do not believe."[17] Asked about U.S. President Donald Trump's order restricting immigration in January 2017, he said: "Certainly there is concern because we are messengers of another culture, that of openness,... The pope insists on the capacity for integration,... the capacity to integrate those who arrive in our society and culture.... We are builders of bridges, not of walls. Christians must be strong in reaffirming this message."[18]

Temporary delegate[edit]

On 2 February 2017, Pope Francis named him papal delegate to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, following a public dispute between the pope and the Grand Master of the Order, Matthew Festing.[19][20] In a letter dated April 15, Becciu instructed Festing not to travel to Rome for the election of his successor at the end of April. He wrote that many members of the Order felt his presence would "reopen wounds" and prevent a return to harmony.[21]


  1. ^ Pope Benedict raised the subject of witchcraft and children with the bishops of Angola during their ad limina visit in November 2011, when Becciu was helping him prepare for such meetings.[3]
  2. ^ Like the Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, "Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, also never worked in the Secretariat, making him likewise a stranger to its palace intrigue. Becciu is cut from a different cloth in another sense, too. He's from the island of Sardinia, where people tend to think of themselves as quite different from mainland Italians–quieter, more reflective, less given to schemes and theater. Supposedly, when Benedict XVI visited Sardinia in 2008, he quipped that 'Sardinians aren't really Italians,' which may be revealing in terms of what he thought he was doing by giving Becciu the job."[10]


  1. ^ "Pope's Aids comments defended ahead of Angola visit". Christian Today. 19 March 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  2. ^ "Angola: Papal envoy calls for end to witch child accusations". Independent Catholic News. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  3. ^ Magister, Sandro (3 November 2011). "Africa. The Religion That Immolates Children". L'Espresso. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  4. ^ "Nuncio Named for Cuba". Zenit. 23 July 2009. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  5. ^ Pentin, Edward (10 May 2011). "Benedict XVI Makes Two Key Vatican Appointments". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  6. ^ "Cuba Bids Farewell to Nuncio". Zenit. 27 May 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  7. ^ "Becciu: may the USA-Cuba thaw be an example for other nations". La Stampa. 1 February 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2017. 
  8. ^ "Mons. Filoni, Prefetto della Congregazione per l’Evangelizzazione dei Popoli". Zenit (in Italian). 10 May 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  9. ^ Allen J., John L. (13 May 2011). "A triptych on Benedict's papacy, and hints of what lies beyond". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  10. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (24 February 2012). "Is it time for a Jacobin pope? Plus, musings on an American". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  11. ^ Reese, Thomas (8 March 2013). "What happens on the first day of the conclave?". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  12. ^ Allen Jr., John L. (31 August 2013). "Francis reboots Vatican system with new Secretary of State". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  13. ^ Wooden, Cindy (30 May 2012). "Papal butler's lawyers ask Vatican for house arrest for their client". National Catholic Reporter. Catholic News Service. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  14. ^ "Archbishop Becciu Says Ex-Swiss Guard Should Disclose Names of 'Gay Lobby'". Zenit. 22 January 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2017. 
  15. ^ Glatz, Carol (15 January 2016). "Archbishop says Vatican officials are ‘ashamed to tell people’ where they work". Catholic Herald. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  16. ^ Tornielli, Andrea (18 December 2016). "Amoris Laetitia, Becciu: The unity of the Church comes before one's own ideas". La Stampa. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  17. ^ "Vatican condemns radio station over anti-gay comments on quake". BBC News. 4 November 2016. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  18. ^ O'Connell, Gerard (1 February 2017). "Top Vatican official criticizes Trump’s refugee ban". America. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  19. ^ "Lettera Pontificia al Sostituto per gli Affari Generali della Segreteria di Stato per la nomina a Delegato Speciale presso il Sovrano Militare Ordine di Malta". Holy See (in Italian). 2 February 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  20. ^ Harris, Elise (4 February 2017). "Pope names Archbishop Becciu personal delegate to Order of Malta". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 4 February 2017. 
  21. ^ Pentin, Edward (19 April 2017). "Vatican Orders Matthew Festing Not to Travel to Rome for Order of Malta Election". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 19 April 2017. 
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Aldo Cavalli
Apostolic Nuncio to Angola
15 October 2001 – 23 July 2009
Succeeded by
Novatus Rugambwa
Preceded by
Luigi Bonazzi
Apostolic Nuncio to Cuba
23 July 2009 – 10 May 2011
Succeeded by
Bruno Musarò
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Fernando Filoni
Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State
10 May 2011–present