Pope backs embattled financial reformer with new statutes
ROME — Pope Francis decided the future of his financial reform on Tuesday, issuing a new legal framework for three key oversight bodies that largely confirm the authority of the man he put in charge of his clean-up operation, controversial Australian Cardinal George Pell.
The decision came in the form of a new legal framework approved by the pontiff for the Vatican’s three financial oversight bodies that he created in 2014: The Council for the Economy, the Secretariat for the Economy, and an independent auditor general.
Despite mounting calls from some quarters of the Vatican to rein in Pell, such measures are largely missing from the new statutes, which were signed by Pope Francis on Feb. 22 and became effective March 1.
The only major concession is that while the Secretariat for the Economy has been confirmed as responsible for procurement and personnel, it will not administer Vatican real estate. That function, which had been assigned to Pell’s department last year, will be returned to another Vatican department.
In general, the results are likely to be taken as a show of confidence in Pell at a time when the 73-year-old prelate had found himself under mounting fire.
Since his arrival in Rome one year ago, Pell had ruffled feathers by moving aggressively to implement new transparency and accountability measures, including publicly disclosing the presence of assets that he claimed had previously been hidden by various departments.