Pope Francis grants sweeping powers to Cardinal Pell’s Economy Secretariat
Pope Francis on Tuesday issued a motu proprio that formally accords Australian Cardinal George Pell oversight of the Vatican’s financial activities, and sets up a new and powerful office of auditor-general.
Today’s decree consolidates the financial reforms Francis initiated a year ago when he established the Secretariat for the Economy under Cardinal Pell and the Council for the Economy under German Cardinal Reinhard Marx.
As head of the Secretariat for the Economy, Cardinal Pell has the power to issue executive decrees to all Vatican departments regarding their procedures, ensuring that their operations are carried out “efficiently” and “in compliance with the approved budgets”, the decree states.
The norms of the motu proprio state that Pell will oversee the creation of a centralised budget for the whole of the Vatican, showing income and expenditure for each curial office.
The cardinal also has right of approval of all sales and purchases of property by curial departments and institutions.
Pell, whose reforms have been resisted by some Vatican officials who hoped his powers would be curtailed, was the subject of an exposé in the Italian magazine l’Espresso last week, which published details of his office’s expenses. But the Vatican condemned the leaking of the information.
The 15 members of the Council for the Economy – eight cardinals or bishops and seven lay members – will receive reports from both the Secretariat and the auditor-general.
The auditor-general, who has yet to be named, will “in full autonomy” be able to investigate anomalies in the activities of institutions and administrations and propose “appropriate measures” to be followed in financial accounting.
Cardinal Pell will have the power to ask the auditor-general to undertake these reviews.
The motu proprio designated English and Italian as the two working languages for all the bodies: the Secretariat, the Council and the office of the Auditor-General.
The norms issued on Tuesday stipulate that Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, should work “in collaboration” with Cardinal Pell, but decree that the Secretary of State “has sole competence for matters relating to relations with States and other subjects of public international law”.