Pope Consolidates Overhaul of Centuries-Old Financial Structure
(Bloomberg) — Pope Francis consolidated his overhaul of the Vatican’s financial system by publishing the statutes of three new economic bodies created to help increase transparency and modernize the centuries-old institution.
The statues of the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat for the Economy, and an independent Auditor General, all created in the past few years, were published on the Vatican website. Jointly, the bodies promote modern management principles and oversee Vatican offices that have operated independently in the past.
A more transparent and accountable handling of the Church’s affairs has been a key priority for the pope since his election in 2013. The first non-European pontiff in almost 1,300 years, who vowed to make the church “poor, and for the poor,” Francis is trying to restore the image of the Church’s finances following several scandals.
The Council for the Economy “follows international best practices in public administration, with the aim of an ethical and efficient financial and administrative management,” according to one of the three legal texts published on the Vatican website.
That’s in line with Francis’ sweeping overhaul of the Holy See’s financial system, which included the appointment of a special commission to scrutinize the Vatican bank’s activities, and greater efforts to comply with international anti-money laundering rules. As part of the drive to improve transparency and cut costs, the Holy See has also distributed a manual on economic ethics and accountability to some of its departments.
The Council for the Economy, composed of 8 bishops and cardinals and 7 lay members, sets up the guidelines for the management of Vatican personnel and assets, and examines the Vatican’s budget. It is headed by German Cardinal Reinhard Marx and counts among its members American Cardinal Daniel DiNardo.
The Secretariat, headed by Australian Cardinal George Pell, oversees the Vatican bureaucracy on a day-to-day basis, prepares the annual budget and handles procurement and personnel.
The Vatican is also enshrining whistle-blower protection in its legislation, “guaranteeing the confidentiality, integrity and safety of information on anomalous activities and documents,” a power given to the Auditor General.
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