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Pope removes investment funds from Secretariat of State

November 05, 2020

Pope Francis has ordered the transfer of all investment funds from the Vatican Secretariat of State. The funds will be placed under management by the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), the office that handles the Vatican’s investment portfolio.

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Pope Francis ordered the transfer in an August letter to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State. That letter was made public by the Vatican on November 5.

The Vatican press office also disclosed that at a meeting on November 4, Pope Francis followed up on his letter, asking top Vatican officials to ensure that the transfer was accomplished “as soon as possible.” If the Secretariat of State cannot hand the investments off to APSA promptly, he said, the office should “at least dispose of them in such a way as to eliminate all reputational risks.”

The mention of “reputational risks” is obviously a reference to the financial scandals that have arisen from investments made by the Secretariat of State, apparently without proper authorization. Those investments—in particular the involvement of a London real-estate deal—have led to a criminal investigation that prompted the ouster of Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a former sostituto, or deputy secretary, of the Secretariat of State.

At the November 4 meeting, Pope Francis created a commission to supervise the transfer of funds, asking them to complete the process within three months. That commission will be chaired by Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, the current sostituto, and will also include Bishop Nunzio Galantino, the president of APSA, and Father Juan Antonino Guerrero Alves, the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

Cardinal Parolin also attended the November 4 meeting, as did Bishop Fernando Vergez, the secretary-general of the Vatican city-state government. The presence of so many high-level officials indicates the urgency with which the Pope views this move to bring the Vatican’s investment portfolio under control.

APSA handles the extensive investment portfolio of the Holy See and acts, in effect, as the Vatican treasury. In his letter to Cardinal Parolin the Pope argued that there is no need for the Secretariat of State to maintain its own financial investments. In fact, in recent months critics have observed that the funds backed by the Secretariat of State have involved high management costs, and lost capital, in addition to providing fodder for scandalous headlines.

In that August letter the Pope took pains to emphasize the overall importance of the Secretariat of state, saying that it is “without a shadow of a doubt, the dicastery which sustains more closely and directly the action of the Holy Father in his mission.” But the Pontiff continued: “It does not seem, however, necessary, nor opportune, that the Secretariat of State should perform all of the functions which are already attributed to other dicasteries.”

 


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  • Posted by: feedback - Nov. 05, 2020 3:26 PM ET USA

    The ongoing financial scandals in the Vatican are signs of a much deeper crisis: of Faith and morality. Pope Francis surrounded himself with shady prelates (McCarrick and Becciu included) who crave for power and access to the cookie jar. Moving the money around - or what is still left of it - will not 'reform' anything. Cardinal Pell was the only real financial reformer. It appears that he was severely punished for his integrity. The Church needs a wise and holy Pope - a true Vicar of Christ.