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Vatican defends management of Congregation caught in corruption charge

Catholic World News - June 28, 2010

Clearly stung by corruption charges against Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe and the Vatican office he once headed, the Congregation for Evangelization, the Vatican on June 28 released a statement explaining the work of that dicastery and offering some perspective on its financial management.

The Vatican statement says that it is “necessary to recall some objective facts to protect the reputation of this important body of the Holy See and the Catholic Church.”

The Congregation for Evangelization—also known by its older name, Propaganda Fide—supervises the Church’s worldwide missionary efforts, the Vatican notes. To support that work, the Congregation holds “a considerable amount of financial resources.” The statement goes on to say that “it can be easily verified that the operating costs are much lower than any international organization engaged in the field of cooperation.”

“The effective management of this patrimony is of course a complex and challenging task,” the Vatican statement continues, and like all financial managers the officials who administer Propaganda Fide may be “exposed to errors of assessment and to fluctuations in the international market.”

Although the statement does not directly address the corruption charges being investigated by Italian law-enforcement officials, the June 28 statement is obviously a response to the probe. Authorities are looking into reports that in 2004, the Congregation for Evangelization sold a building in Rome to an Italian government minister at a below-market price; soon afterward the same government official arranged for the use of public funds for restore another piece of property owned by the Congregation.

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