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New Vatican clash over economic reforms

May 10, 2017

Cardinal George Pell, the prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, has rebuked the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (ASPA), saying that APSA overstepped its authority by instructing other Vatican offices to submit financial information to an outside auditor.

Msgr. Mauro Rivella, the secretary of APSA, had directed Vatican offices to provide data to PricewaterhouseCoopers, saying that the accounting firm was conducting an audit of Vatican finances. But Cardinal Pell has written to all Vatican offices, telling them that APSA has “no authority, nor to prerogative” to issue such instructions. The cardinal’s letter—also signed by Libero Milone, the Vatican’s auditor general—tells Vatican officials “with deep regret” that they should not comply with the APSA directive.

APSA, the agency charged with administering the substantial real-estate holdings of the Holy See, has been in conflict with the Secretariat for the Economy over plans to reform and coordinate all Vatican financial affairs. Last year APSA persuaded Pope Francis to issue a motu proprio returning control of Vatican financial assets, which had been confided to the Secretariat for the Economy, back to APSA.

In another setback for Cardinal Pell’s reform plans, the Vatican last year cancelled an external audit, which was to have have been conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, ordered by the Secretariat for the Economy. As a result, in his May 2 letter to Vatican offices, Cardinal Pell reminded officials that “there is no ongoing audit” by the outside accountants, and the Vatican’s own auditor general, Milone, has primary responsibility for all audits—contrary to the suggestion from APSA.

The tensions between APSA and the Secretariat for the Economy have been aggravated, Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register reports, because APSA has not complied with requests for information from the Secretariat for the Economy. Cardinal Pell remarked that the conflict has provoked a “moment of truth” for the cause of Vatican economic reform.


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