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Pope centralizes management of the papacy's finances

by Carlo Marroni

The super-ministry of finance for the Vatican has drawn up new rules for managing the Papacy's accounts. Starting next year, the Vatican's central budget will follow a new set of financial regulations in allocating funds among various departments, with a subsequent review by an international auditing agency. The new rules were laid out in black and white by the Economic Secretariat, the new super-ministry created last February. This week, the office published and distributed to all Vatican officials a new guidebook with a list of financial management policies that will become official on Jan. 1, 2015. The manual was approved by the Economic Council - a group led by German Cardinal Marx, which came up with the general guidelines - and by Pope Francis himself, who shares in the spirit of the reforms.
“The goal of the manual is very simple,” said Australian Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Vatican's Economic Secretariat. Pell told Vatican Radio that the goal is to help the various agencies and administrators of the Holy See to improve the criteria and procedures they use in budgeting, according to consistent and internationally agreed-upon standards. The new “rules for sound and consistent financial management will clarify the role and responsibility of those who are entrusted with the resources of the Church,” said Pell, who is considered the most powerful man in Vatican finances. He's member of the C-9, the Council of Cardinals that advises Bergoglio on reforms of the Curia, and a trusted advisor to the Pope. Even if he has completely different views with respect to clerical questions regarding the family, where the Pope has proven to be extremely liberal.
“The new policies reinforce an ongoing process of organizing the Vatican's offices so resources can be used more effectively and efficiently in serving the mission of the Church,” according to an official source, who said the Economic Secretariat will provide the Vatican and the Holy See with the training and the support needed to implement the new policies.
The rules are part of a broad internal overhaul, that includes creating several new financial agencies, which will be discussed by the Economic Council on Dec. 2. In particular, the statute for Apsa (Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See) needs to be drawn up and it will become the Central Treasury, managing the Vatican's international finances and deposits. The new Revisore Generale, or General Auditor, will oversee revenue and spending.
The site of the Financial Secretariat's physical office space reflects its key role. It was initially housed in the Tower of Saint Giovanni, atop a hill in the Vatican Gardens, but that location was felt to be too far away from the Vatican's central decision making nexus - and certainly too far from the Domus Santa Marta where the Pope lives. The offices are now being transferred to the more strategically located Principal loggia of the Apostolic Palace, on the same floor as the Vatican's Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.