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Secretariat for Economy defends contract for external audit

April 25, 2016

The Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy has rejected the claim that an external audit was suspended because the contract with the auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers, had not been drawn up properly.

Last week when the Secretariat of State announced the suspension of the audit-- a move that caught the Secretariat for the Economy by surprise-- one explanation quietly circulated in Rome was that the contract with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) might not be legally valid, because it lacked formal approval from the Secretariat of State.

The Secretariat for the Economy dismissed that suggestion, saying that "the contract with PwC was drawn up by the Council for the Economy which as its Statutes clearly state, is the body in charge of nominating external auditors.” The statement went on to rebut suggestions that the contract needed explicit approval from the Secretariat of State and/or the Council of Cardinals (C9). The Secretariat for the Economy explained that "the Council [for the Economy] is the competent body, not the Secretariat of State and certainly not the C9 which is a consulting body that assists the Holy Father and operates without holding any formal role in the government of the Holy See."

The strong statement from the Secretariat for the Economy highlights the conflict between that office, headed by Cardinal George Pell, and the Secretariat of State, which has traditionally held ultimate control over the administrative affairs of the Vatican. The suspension of the external audit has generally been seen as an outgrowth of that clash, with the Secretariat of State seeking to limit the power of the new office, while Cardinal Pell presses forward with his attempt to hold Vatican offices accountable for their financial dealings.

The April 22 statement from the Secretariat of the Economy included a note that the statement was released "after a conversation with the Vatiacn press office." However, the press office did not release the statement, and the Vatican Insider reported that the press office did not approve it. The Vatican press office works under the aegis of the Secretariat of State. 


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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: RoseMore - Apr. 25, 2016 9:30 PM ET USA

    Very depressing to hear this.

  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Apr. 25, 2016 7:34 PM ET USA

    I think this is a tough situation. There may be strong reasons not to give external auditors full access, which Cardinal Pell may or may not know of. I almost hate to suggest this particular possibility, but: Suppose such an audit turns up something like millions transferred to another organization for the purpose of ransoming the captives of islamic terrorism. "Transparency" about such a thing would be a disaster; some information is too sensitive even to share with confidential auditors.

  • Posted by: unum - Apr. 25, 2016 6:46 PM ET USA

    The Vatican infighting makes our major corporations look penny-ante! The faithful can have no faith in their announcements until the Holy Father invites the heads of the major Secretariats to a "Come to Jesus meeting" (both the literal and corporate interpretations apply) and promises them an early exit if the infighting does not stop. The world-wide faithful need credible leadership, and they are not getting it from these penny-ante bureaucrats or the Holy Father.