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Pope establishes new Vatican secretariat for economic affairs

Catholic World News - February 24, 2014

In his first major structural reform of the Vatican bureaucracy, Pope Francis has created a new Secretariat for the Economy, which will supervise the financial affairs of all Vatican departments.

The Secretariat for the Economy will be responsible for financial planning, budgeting, and purchasing. It will be supervised by another new body, the Council for the Economy, which will include 15 members, eight bishops and seven lay experts, drawn from different parts of the world.

Pope Francis named Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia, to be the 1st prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy. He will be assisted by a secretary-general, who will handle the daily activities of the office. The Secretariat will also include an auditor-general, appointed by the Pope, who will have authority to audit any Vatican office.

The February 24 statement from Vatican announcing the new structures said that the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, the existing office that handles payroll and purchasing for the Vatican, will continue in that role “as the central bank of the Vatican.” The announcement did not mention the Vatican bank, the Institute for Religious Works (IOR); Pope Francis has apparently not yet made his final decision on the future of that institution.

The creation of the Secretariat for the Economy comes after a series of meetings at the Vatican last week, at which the Pope and the Council of Cardinals heard recommendations from two different panels appointed to study the economic and administrative affairs of the Vatican.

The changes will enable more formal involvement of senior and experienced experts in financial administration, planning and reporting and will ensure better use of resources, improving the support available for various programs, particularly our works with the poor and marginalized. On the basis of their recommendations, Pope Francis released a motu proprio, entitled Fidelis et Dispensator Prudens, establishing the new structures. In that document, the Pontiff writes that the new body should provide faithful stewardship of the Vatican’s resources, recognizing that they serve the “mission to evangelize, with particular concern for the most needy.”

The Secretariat for the Economy, combining the financial and administrative functions of the Vatican in a single agency, is intended to streamline the business of the Vatican, provide more transparency and oversight, and ensure that the business of the Holy See is conducted in accordance with acknowledged accounting standards and best practices. The Pope has asked Cardinal Pell to begin his work as quickly as possible, and to seek help from experts in finance, accounting, and management to help provide for greater efficiency in administration.

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  • Posted by: Defender - Feb. 25, 2014 1:01 AM ET USA

    Given that there have been so many dioceses that have declared bankruptcy and have had to close schools, etc., it makes me wonder if having clerics making financial decisions is a good idea.

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