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Vatican confirms Mali to get its first cardinal

Vatican City, Rome (Globe Afrique) – The creation of Mali’s first cardinal is to go ahead as planned, the Vatican said Tuesday, quashing rumours that Jean Zerbo’s appointment was at risk following reports of questionable financial conduct.

Vatican experts said Zerbo, 74, was recovering from an illness but had managed to make the trip to the Vatican to be appointed cardinal along with four others by Pope Francis on Wednesday.

The Church in Mali had reportedly said Monday that the archbishop would not attend because of ill health, an announcement that prompted speculation that Francis may have called off the appointment fearing a scandal.

Zerbo, who has played an active role in peace negotiations in Mali, was named in press reports at the end of May as one of three Church officials in Mali to have access to 12 million euros held in several accounts at a private bank in Switzerland.

According to reports dubbed “Swissleaks”, published by France’s Le Monde newspaper and Sahelien.com, the accounts were opened in 2007 at HSBC by the Bishops’ Conference of Mali.

The Conference denied any wrongdoing.

Zerbo will be the first “Prince of the Church” from Mali, where over 90 percent of the population is Muslim.

The other cardinals to be created Wednesday are from El Salvador, Laos, Spain and Sweden.

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Ben Mabande

Ben Mabande is a researcher and senior contributing reporter with Globe Afrique Media.

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