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Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

In the interests of transparency...

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 12, 2019

The Vatican has released new statutes governing the office of its Auditor General. Which would be nice, if the Vatican had an Auditor General.

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Sure, there’s an office of the Auditor General, and Vatican officials evidently considered it important to define the rights and responsibilities of that office. But they haven’t yet found it important to fill the office.

The last Auditor General, Libero Milone, resigned in June 2017. He had been appointed to the post in June 2015, as part of the Vatican’s drive to establish transparency in financial affairs. Two years later he was gone, and nearly two years after that he hasn’t been replaced. If you’re cynical, the Vatican’s tardiness in appointing a successor—while Milone’s old deputy, Alessandro Cassinis Righini, holds the fort—might make you question that professed commitment to transparency. But you haven’t heard the half of it yet.

Milone’s resignation was abrupt, and obviously not voluntary. Leading Vatican officials said that he had abused his office, and criminal charges were likely. Milone countered that he was being framed, probably because he had uncovered evidence of serious wrongdoing. Milone said that his offices had been bugged; other Vatican officials charged that the auditor had bugged their offices. Clearly, no matter who was telling the truth, there was some sort of skullduggery going on. It would have been interesting—not to mention conducive to the cause of transparency—to investigate those charges and counter-charges and establish the truth. Instead, after months of silence, the Vatican announced that there would be no criminal charges against Milone. The whole lurid affair was buried. Secrecy, in this case, may serve the interests of the accused, or it may serve the interests of compromised Vatican officials. It sure doesn’t serve the interests of transparency.

When Milone’s resignation was announced, in June of 2017, the Vatican assured the world that his successor would be named “as soon as possible.” Maybe it’s hard to find qualified auditors in Rome. More likely it’s hard to find capable auditors who are willing to play by the Vatican’s peculiar rules.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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