Catholic Culture Overview
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Vatican suspends external audit

April 20, 2016

A thorough audit of all Vatican offices has been suspended, in a major blow to plans for reform of Vatican financial affairs.

The Secretariat of State has informed Vatican offices that the outside audit, being conducted by the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers, was being discontinued. The audit was begun in December 2015, after Cardinal George Pell, the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, reported that a preliminary inqury into Vatican financial affairs had uncovered the serious undervaluation of assets, as well as unsupervised spending that created opportunities for mismanagement and corruption.

Cardinal Pell had pressed energetically for the imposition of regular audits and uniform financial controls, to bring accountability to Vatican financial affairs. His efforts have faced resistance from other offices of the Roman Curia, and the suspension of the PricewaterhouseCoopers audit appears to reflect a setback for the Australian cardinal.

The Italian newspaper Italia Oggi, which broke the news that the audit was being suspended also reported that Antonino D'Anna, who had been considered a candidate to become the new president of the Institute for Religious Works, had removed his name from consideration because of what he described as the "complex situation" at the Vatican bank. Italia Oggi interpreted D'Anna's statement as a further indication that Cardinal Pell's position has been weakened, and the financial reforms that he has sought to institute may be in jeopardy.

Cardinal Pell was appointed by Pope Francis in 2014 to head the newly formed Secretariat for the Economy, and given a broad mandate to bring order to Vatican financial affairs. He was appointed to serve a five-year term in that office.


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  • Posted by: - Apr. 23, 2016 12:01 AM ET USA

    I side with Cardinal Pell. Every organization should be properly audited. The pope should push this forward; no dragging of feet please. Since the Council of Trent there have been moves to reform the Vatican/curia.

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Apr. 21, 2016 7:09 AM ET USA

    It appeared to many from the beginning that cleaning up the Curia was the big reason for the Pope Emeritus to retire. It now appears that Pope Francis is failing that task. Sad.

  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Apr. 20, 2016 11:32 PM ET USA

    Who would be surprised by this? The Roman Curia will block any attempt to institute financial reform. I'm too angry to say any more.

  • Posted by: unum - Apr. 20, 2016 10:47 PM ET USA

    Another "serious" effort to "bring order to Vatican financial affairs" gets shelved, adding to the conviction of serious Catholics everywhere that the management of the Vatican is corrupt. We have begun to understand the reasons why Jesus weeps for His Church!

  • Posted by: charles.pullin6847 - Apr. 20, 2016 7:13 PM ET USA

    As a CPA, I am saddened by this turn of events. It is extremely rare to discontinue an audit once begun. Even if there are valid reasons for its termination, the natural reaction will be suspicion. That is especially true for the media and the secularists. As much as I try to support our shepherds in all of their roles (including their administrative duties), this news troubles me deeply. I simple can't imagine the reason for this, unless there is something hide. I pray for our Bishops.