The Pontifical Lateran University in Rome has inaugurated a pastoral management course for those who manage financial and human resources in parishes, dioceses, and other organisations affiliated with the Church, reports Bloomberg/SMH.
Fr Massimo Cavallo jumped at the chance to go back to school after struggling with maintenance work, suppliers, and taxes as the manager of a students' dormitory in Rome.
The 34-year-old is one of 26 attendees of the 15-month course, inaugurated this month, which covers topics such as strategic communication, business ethics and creative problem-solving.
The effort is in line with the Holy See's attempt to close a budget shortfall and comes as Italy strives to emerge from the longest recession since World War II. Pope Francis is also trying to boost efficiency and clean up finances after scandals involving the Vatican Bank and the Holy See's administrative body, APSA, which manages real estate and financial holdings of the world's smallest state.
"Making ends meet is not easy," Fr Cavallo said in an interview outside his office filled with stacks of theology books, pictures of him shaking hands with Pope Francis and his two predecessors, a desktop PC, and a calculator.
Pope Francis has boosted oversight and ordered a sweeping overhaul of the Holy See's financial system by establishing a secretariat for economic issues, appointing a special commission to scrutinise the Vatican bank's activities and bolstered efforts to comply with international anti-money laundering rules.
"We ecclesiastics, priests, fall into traps because of our lack of preparation and ignorance," Rector Monsignor Enrico dal Covolo said in an interview in the papal university's seven-floor library, which contains more than 500,000 books and documents. In most cases, he said, "the absence of transparency is not due to a premeditated scam."