Cardinal of Naples Aquitted of All Accusations

Despite Illegal Wiretaps, No Evidence of Wrongdoing Produced

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 24, 2000 ( The archdiocese of Naples has particular cause for joy in this Christmas season. Just two days ago, its archbishop, Cardinal Michele Giordano was absolved of all accusations of incorrect use of Church funds.

Prosecutors had claimed that the cardinal supplied about $800,000 to finance a loan-sharking outfit run by his brother that allegedly charged exorbitant rates of interest. He was also accused of appropriating another $500,000 in church funds.

Judge Vincenzo Starita´s verdict was to the point: “Complete absolution of all charges presented.” In a separate judgment, the Cardinal´s brother was also acquitted.

Holy See spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls expressed satisfaction with the acquittal, though he felt that the court process had been unnecessary. “From the beginning of the process it was clear that Cardinal Giordano was not involved in the matters he was charged with, and which had taken place in Sant´Arcangelo di Lucania, the town where the prelate was born and where his family lives. Despite this, they insisted on continuing their investigations in every direction, and now their results leave no room for doubt about the innocence of the cardinal — which they could have proclaimed immediately.”

Navarro-Valls also objected to the methods used in the investigation, asserting that Cardinal Giordano´s rights were infringed upon by the search of his office and the use of illegal wire taps, “as well as interrupting the exercise of his episcopal ministry.”

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