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Secretariat for Economy rebuts charges of excess spending, says costs are below budget

March 02, 2015

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Responding to allegations of excessive spending, the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy has issued a statement saying that its operating expenses have been “below the budget set when the office was established.”

The Secretariat for the Economy, set up to establish uniform financial accounting for all Vatican offices, has been under fire from some officials of the Roman Curia, who charge that the new office has exceeded its proper authority. Last week the Italian daily L’Espresso published leaked documents showing that the Secretariat had spent about €500,000 ($560,000) in the first six months of its existence.

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, decried the leaks as “undignified and petty,” and defended the work of the Secretariat.

In its own public statement, the Secretariat for the Economy denied as “completely false” rumors that Pope Francis had summoned Cardinal George Pell, the head of the office, to question the expenditures. Such charges are “a complete fiction,” the statement said.

The statement went on to note that the costs of establishing and staffing the Secretariat, together with the first comprehensive audit every performed of Vatican offices, came in under budget. The Secretariat announced that it would soon present full audited financial statements for 2014.

In a combative final note, the Secretariat said: “Finally and for the record, Cardinal Pell does not have a Cappa Magna.” That sentence was obviously aimed at critics who had hinted that Cardinal Pell was spending lavishly on liturgical vestments. The leaked documents published in L’Espresso had included a bill from Rome’s leading tailor of ecclesiastical garments. That bill had evidently covered the vestments needed for a new chapel set up in the Secretariat, to serve all clerics.

 


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