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Cardinal Marx questions Cardinal Pell's statement on Vatican assets

February 19, 2015

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Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich has questioned the wisdom of Cardinal George Pell’s recent announcement that the Vatican has $1.5 billion in previously unreported financial assets.

Cardinal Pell, the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, made the announcement in a report to last week’s consistory of cardinals, in which he presented an overall account of his new office’s work. Cardinal Marx told an interviewer that he supports the overall quest by Cardinal Pell to provide a realistic budget for the Holy See and establish principles for transparency in Vatican financial affairs.

However the German cardinal said that the presentation of specific figures was “not very helpful.” He said that the assets of the Vatican can only be measured meaningfully when they are balanced against financial obligations.

The criticism by Cardinal Marx, although carefully measured, is particularly significant because the German prelate is president of the Council for the Economy, the body that supervises the work of Cardinal Pell’s Secretariat. The public differences between the two cardinals underline the existence of tensions among Church leaders over the drive to establish new financial controls on Vatican offices.

Cardinal Pell has openly acknowledged that his office has encountered serious resistance. Following his report to the consistory of cardinals, participants said that there was a “heated” discussion of the degree to which the Secretariat for the Economy should control the business affairs of other Vatican offices.


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