Pope set new Vatican purchasing rules to cut corruption
June 01, 2020
Pope Francis has issued new rules for Vatican purchasing, in a move to cut down costs and eliminate opportunities for corrupt practices.
In a motu proprio accompanied by 30 pages of detailed regulations, the Pontiff explains that the new centralized system should “make it possible to reduce considerably the danger of corruption of those called upon to govern and manage the bodies of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.” He explains that his standard, in setting the new rule, is the “diligence of a good family father.”
Under the new rules, all contracts for work in offices of the Holy See, and major purchases for the Roman Curia, will be routed through the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA); for the Vatican city-state, the business will go through the Vatican Governorate. The Pope notes that the rules are designed to ensure “best practices” while also “keeping in mind the fundamental principles and aims of the canonical order and the peculiarity of that of Vatican City State.” These rules take effect in 30 days.
The new system requires bidding for contracts, eliminating an age-old practice of awarding contracts to firms with traditionally friendly ties to different Vatican offices: a practice that has given rise to inflated costs and accusations of corruption. Under the supervision of the Secretariat for the Economy, the Vatican will compile a list of contractors who are eligible to bid on projects—excluding from that list any contractors who have been convicted of, or currently under investigation for, criminal charges.
Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has promised to bring accountability to Vatican financial affairs. That task has become an urgent priority in recent months, as the Vatican faces a severe budget deficit, and stories of financial irregularities continue to make unwelcome headlines. (Late last week, Swiss authorities froze the assets of banks that had been involved in a suspect real-estate transaction now under investigation by Vatican prosecutors.)
A source close to the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy said that the new purchasing procedures represent “a wonderful advance.” The source explained:
By themselves they won’t solve the grave financial problems facing the Vatican but they spell out the methodology which has to be followed going forward: transparency, proper control and competition amongst suppliers with competitive costing and pricing to the benefit of the Holy See.
Regular independent auditing will be needed to ensure that these norms are being followed.
When it was first established under the leadership of Cardinal George Pell, the Secretariat for the Economy sought to have independent auditing for all Vatican offices, and a single fund, tightly monitored, to handle all Vatican investments. These recommendations have not yet been adopted.
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- Holy See Press Office Communiqué (Vatican press office)
- Apostolic Letter in the form of a “Motu Proprio” of the Supreme Pontiff Francis (Vatican press office)
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