An Italian cardinal fired from his powerful Vatican post said on Friday (September 25) Pope Francis had accused him of embezzlement and nepotism -- but he denied wrongdoing and said he was still ready to lay down his life for the pontiff.
Speaking to reporters the day after his shock ousting, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, a key mover and shaker in the Vatican hierarchy, said he had had a "surreal" meeting with the pope on Thursday night when he was sacked.
"I was white in the face," Becciu said. "Certainly it was not a good moment. He was upset, he had a hard time telling me."
The pope, who Becciu said had been given information by Vatican and Italian magistrates, told him to resign as head of the Vatican department that decides who will become Roman Catholic saints.
He was also told he would have to give up his rights as cardinal, including participation in an eventual conclave to elect a new pope.
Becciu said the pope had told him "I no longer have trust in you."
Becciu has also been caught up in a Vatican scandal about using Church money to invest in a luxury building in London, but said that was not the reason he was ordered to resign.