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New Vatican candor brings welcome results

August 24, 2012

John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter notes that in two important recent cases, the Vatican has shown an unusual willingness to expose its internal policies to public scrutiny, and in each case the new transparency has brought pleasant results.

First, the Holy See allowed a thorough audit by European banking examiners. In the past, the Vatican has jealously guarded its immunity from international oversight. But in this case the "Moneyval" review gave a generally clean bill of health to the Vatican's financial transaction (while pointing some needed reforms). The review quieted complaints that the Vatican could be exploited by money-laundering operations, and answered questions about the alleged secrecy of the Vatican banking operations.

Then last week, a US federal court dismissed the Vatican as defendant in a sex-abuse lawsuit, ruling that a parish priest cannot legally be regarded as an "employee" of the Vatican. The decision came after the Vatican provided a thorough legal briefing on the relations between priests and bishops, and a full account of the few direct dealings between the Vatican and the priest who is the focus of the lawsuit.

Allen wonders whether the welcome results in these two cases might encourage further candor from Vatican officials.


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