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Pope backs Secretariat for Economy in bid for Vatican reform

March 03, 2015

Pope Francis has approved the statutes of the Secretariat for the Economy, giving an important victory to Cardinal George Pell in his quest for transparency and accountability in Vatican financial affairs.

Cardinal Pell, the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, had faced mounting opposition to his plans. Last week, Italian newspapers carried stories, based on leaked documents, alleging lavish spending at the new agency. Both the Secretariat for the Economy and the Vatican press office rejected those charges.

During last month’s consistory of cardinals, several prelates said that the powers of the new Secretariat should be trimmed, preserving some of the autonomy traditionally enjoyed by Vatican agencies. By approving the draft statutes, Pope Francis chose not to accept those suggestions.

The Crux web site notes that the statutes, as approved by the Pontiff, take back only one aspect of the sweeping authority that the Secretariat for the Economy had sought: the Secretariat will not supervise the Vatican’s real-estate holdings. Otherwise the statutes confirm the authority that Cardinal Pell had sought.

The Secretariat for the Economy is supervised by a Council for the Economy. The office itself supervises all Vatican financial transactions, and includes an auditor general with powers to inspect the books of any Vatican office.

 


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