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Transparency, Honesty and Responsibility

by Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J.

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  • Descriptive Title:
    Fr. Lombardi's Note Concerning the "Motu Proprio" on Preventing Illegal activities in the Financial Sector
    Description:
    The text of a note written by Holy See Press Office Director, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., on the Pope's Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio" on the prevention and countering of illegal activities in the financial and monetary sectors.
  • Publisher & Date:
    Vatican, December 30, 2010

Today's publication of new laws for Vatican City State, for the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and for the Institutions and Entities dependent on the Holy See, is an important normative development, but also has far-reaching moral and pastoral significance.

As of today, all organisations associated with the government of the Catholic Church - and with the Church's "support": Vatican City State - have, in a spirit of sincere collaboration, become part of that system of juridical principles and instruments which the international community is creating with the aim of guaranteeing just and honest coexistence in an increasingly globalized world; a world in which, unfortunately, economy and finance is not infrequently a field for illegal activities, such as the recycling of the profits of crime and the financing of terrorism, true threats to justice and peace in the world.

Speaking plainly, the Pope affirms that the "Holy See approves such a commitment" on the part of the international community, "and intends to adopt the rules" the community uses "to prevent and combat" these terrible phenomena.

Illegal activities have always shown an extraordinary ability to infiltrate and contaminate the world of economy and finance, but their growth at the international level, and the use of new technology, have made them increasingly insidious and capable of concealment. Thus, by way of protection, it has become vital to create mutual control and information networks among the authorities charged with contrasting such activities.

It would be ingenuous to imagine that the perverse intelligence of the people who control illegal activities would not seek to exploit certain weak spots which sometimes exist in the international systems that defend and oversee legality, in order to penetrate and violate them. For this reason international solidarity is of vital importance in order to safeguard those systems, and it is right and understandable that national watchdogs and the competent international organisations (the Council of Europe and, in particular, FATF the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering) should look favorably upon the States and organisations which offer the requested guarantees, and impose greater limitations on those which fail to conform.

Naturally, this also holds true for Vatican City and for those ecclesiastical organisations which undertake economic and financial activities.

Thus the new norms respond both to the need to conserve the effectiveness of the organisations that work in the economic and financial sector at the service of the Catholic Church in the world and, – more importantly - to the moral requirement of "transparency, honesty and responsibility", which must always be observed in the social and economic field (Caritas in Veritate, 36).

The implementation of the new norms will certainly require great commitment. A new Financial Information Authority must be set up, new obligations must be respected, new functions exercised. But this cannot but be of benefit to the Church. Vatican organisations will be less vulnerable in the face of the continuous risks that inevitably arise in the handling of money. Those errors which so quickly become the cause of "scandal" for public opinion and the faithful will be avoided. In the final analysis the Church will be more "credible" before the members of the international community, and this is of vital importance for her evangelical mission. Today, 30 December 2010, the Pope has signed a document of a type a little unusual for him, but one of great courage and of great moral and spiritual significance. This is a good way to conclude the year: with a step towards transparency and credibility!

See also:

Communique Regarding Legislation for Prevention & Countering of Illegal Activities in the Financial & Monetary Sectors (Secretariat of State)

Motu Propprio on Illegal Activities in the Financial Sector (Pope Benedict XVI)

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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