Catholic World News

Vatican cardinal: in financial mismanagement cases, call authorities only as last resort

October 19, 2012

As the members of Synod of Bishops gathered in working groups to draft the synod’s propositions, 18 synod fathers who had not made speeches during the course of the synod submitted written interventions, many of which concerned the new evangelization and local conditions.

Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, discussed financial administration and scandal.

“There is a true difficulty in finding the right balance between the necessary priorities of the spiritual finality and the techniques with which the material goods are managed by the ecclesiastical administrations, inasmuch as these techniques are dictated by the world and often are in contrast with the religious finality,” he wrote. “It would follow then that there is a possibility for errors by those who administrate the ecclesiastical goods, where the presumption of good intentions and honesty to the demonstration to the contrary must be applied, rather than the easy accusation of personal interests or power which denigrate the Church.”

He added:

In cases of the possible bad administration of ecclesial goods, as therapy, the evangelical medicine of fraternal correction must be applied. Before denouncing to the authorities, personal confrontation must be applied to give the possibility of reformation and repairing.

Transparency does not automatically mean the publicizing of evil which leads to scandal. Only if conversion is not there, the proper authorities must be called, who have the task of verifying the accusations without them being already considered proof of misgovernment.

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  • Posted by: opraem - Oct. 20, 2012 1:36 AM ET USA

    WOW! they haven't learned a thing from the molestation/cover-up crisis. while people don't understand why priests/bishops abuse children everybody understands theft. this cardinal should be fraternally corrected asap.

  • Posted by: wolfdavef3415 - Oct. 19, 2012 10:50 PM ET USA

    It is my job to detect financial irregularities. I have a graduate degree in accounting, an undergrad in accounting, and another undergrad in forensic accounting and fraud examination. It is not reasonable or realistic to expect a person who steals to experience the sort of conversion referred to. Not when confronted as suggested. It may happen, yes, but likely not. It is bad stewardship to suggest this. I am not impugning motives or persons. I only want that point to be clear.

  • Posted by: rpp - Oct. 19, 2012 3:52 PM ET USA

    So... If I understand this correctly, if someone discovers that a person is embezzling, the embezzler should be confronted, asked to repay and promise not to do it again rather than simply calling the cops and forensic accountants off the bat. While I see some justice in this, and perhaps it's a symptom of my own cynicism having risen to the level of being uncharitable, that may be a bit naive. How can restitution be made? Can/should a thief ever be trusted with money again?

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Oct. 19, 2012 2:45 PM ET USA

    Remarkably similar to the way the Church handled priests who abused boys all those years. Mishandling money isn't quite the same as mishandling altar boys, but there's an uncomfortable parallel.