Earlier this year, Francis appointed Australia's Cardinal George Pell to modernise Vatican finances. In this article for The Catholic Herald, Cardinal Pell sets out what he has discovered so far.
- The Catholic Herald
Recently a young Spanish lad asked me to explain the nature of my work in the Vatican as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, as well as the past and present economic situation of the Holy See.
Why? Because as a member of Opus Dei and a first-year university student, he wanted to be able to answer the questions of his fellow students and defend the Church.
A member of a British parliamentary delegation put it in a somewhat different way: why did the authorities allow the situation to lurch along, disregarding modern accounting standards, for so many decades?
In reply, I began by remarking that his question was one of the first that would come to our minds as English-speakers (lumped together by the rest of the world as “Anglos”), but one that might be much lower on the list for people in another culture, such as the Italians.
Those in the Curia were following long-established patterns. Just as kings had allowed their regional rulers, princes or governors an almost free hand, provided they balanced their books, so too did the popes with the curial cardinals (as they still do with diocesan bishops).
Because of the size of the Catholic community, with about 3,000 dioceses spread through every continent, the principle of subsidiarity – that is, local management of diocesan and religious order finances – is the only option.
The responsibilities of the Secretariat for the Economy are limited to the Holy See, Vatican City State and the almost 200 entities directly answerable to the Vatican. But already some cardinals and bishops have wondered aloud whether the new set of financial procedures and chart of accounts, introduced in November this year in the Vatican, might be sent to bishops’ conferences for consideration and use. This is something for the future.
It is important to point out that the Vatican is not broke. Apart from the pension fund, which needs to be strengthened for the demands on it in 15 or 20 years, the Holy See is paying its way, while possessing substantial assets and investments.
In fact, we have discovered that the situation is much healthier than it seemed, because some hundreds of millions of euros were tucked away in particular sectional accounts and did not appear on the balance sheet. It is another question, impossible to answer, whether the Vatican should have much larger reserves.
Read full article: In an exclusive article Cardinal George Pell explains his mission to sort out the Vatican's finances (The Catholic Herald)
Fr Lombardi clarifies Cardinal's comments' (Vatican Insider)
Vatican spokesman says nothing illicit about missing millions found by Cardinal Pell (The Catholic Herald)
Cardinal Reveals Newly Discovered Funds at the Vatican - Perspectives Daily (Salt and Light TV/YouTube)
IMAGE credit: Pope Francis delivers a blessing during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Nov. 5. Australian Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, stands over his shoulder. (CNS/Paul Haring)