APSA appointment is another false step on Vatican financial accountability
John Allen of Crux writes that the appointment of Bishop Nunzio Galantino as new head of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) is “the most reassuring and also the riskiest move we’ve seen from the pontiff in some time.” I agree with 50% of that assessment. The move is definitely risky. But reassuring? To me, not at all.
APSA, for those who have not been following the Vatican’s halting steps toward financial reform, is the agency responsible for managing the Vatican’s enormous real-estate portfolio. It is also the agency that has given us “Msgr. €500,” the agency that has been implicated in no-bid contracts and sweetheart leases, the agency that has successfully warded off outside auditors. Earlier this week the Pope acknowledged: “We have to move ahead on transparency, and that depends on ANSA.”
Bishop Galantino, Allen accurately observes, has been recognized as “the pontiff’s closest ally in the Italian bishops’ conference.” So Pope Francis will have a trusted friend at the head of the agency that needs reform.
However, Bishop Galantino, who has no background as a financial manager, will be taking charge of an agency that has successfully resisted previous efforts at reform. What is the likelihood that he will produce concrete results, where other experienced and hard-headed managers have failed?
Furthermore, if Bishop Galantino does not produce reform, and complaints about APSA continue, another factor comes into play. Pope Francis has shown a strong tendency to ignore complaints about the prelates who are his special favorites. So there is a distinct possibility that the Holy Father will now be less likely to credit reports about corruption at APSA.
There is a simple first step toward financial transparency: an outside audit.
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