New rules for Vatican finance offices include protection for whistleblowers

Cardinal George Pell, the head of he Secretariat for the Economy (CNS)

Separate statutes for the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat for the Economy and a ‘general auditor’s office’ announced

New rules governing the guidance, oversight and control of Vatican financial and administrative activities include the power to levy sanctions and take “civil or criminal action” in cases of “damage to assets”, as well as providing protection for whistleblowers raising red flags about “anomalous activity”.

The provisions were detailed in separate statutes for the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat for the Economy and a “general auditor’s office,” which will be staffed by three lay experts.

The Vatican published the new statutes in Italian on its web site today; they went into effect on March 1. Pope Francis approved the statutes “ad experimentum” (on a trial basis) for an unspecified period of time.

The establishment of the council and secretariat were announced in February 2014. Officials said it took a full year to develop the statutes because they had to be reviewed by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. A key issue reportedly was to ensure adequate checks and balances.

The statutes officially define the nature, role, responsibilities and organisational structure of each of the three bodies; outline channels of command and accountability; designate English and Italian as the new offices’ working languages; and emphasise the need to keep data and documents confidential.

The statutes codify the mission of the three bodies as part of a major overhaul of the Vatican’s accounting and budgeting procedures, and make clear that both the Secretariat for the Economy and the auditors report to the Council for the Economy.

The auditing office, made up of a general auditor and two assistant auditors, will have the power to audit any Vatican office or body “in full autonomy and independence, and following the best practices recognised internationally concerning public administration.”

The auditor’s office will be the body that receives and investigates any signs of corruption, fraud and “anomalous activity” or irregularities concerning financial activities, budgeting, bookkeeping and the offering of outside contracts or services.

“The general auditor guarantees the confidentiality, integrity and security” of documents and information associated with suspected activities and “protects the identity” of those signaling any potential problems unless revealing the whistleblower’s identity becomes necessary in carrying out an investigation or trial.

Red flags raised “in good faith” concerning suspicious activities “do not produce any kind of culpability for violating professional secrets” or other similar confidentiality agreements, the new rules say.

The Council for the Economy, the statutes say, is dedicated to devising best practices, according to international standards, for more ethical, effective and transparent financial management and administration “in light of the Gospel” and Church social doctrine.

The council — which is made up of 15 members — will be charged with inspecting the budget forecasts and final budgets of all dicasteries, offices and organisations of the Holy See and Vatican City State. The council will prepare “recommendations for them and submit them to the Holy Father for approval”.

The council will also examine annual “risk assessments” concerning the Vatican’s holdings and finances.

The council will have the authority to request information from every office, including the Financial Intelligence Authority and the Vatican bank, and will examine annual reports from the general auditor.

The council members, appointed to a five-year term by the Pope, will include eight cardinals or bishops and seven lay experts, all from different nationalities to “represent the universality of the church.”

The Secretariat for the Economy, currently headed by Australian Cardinal George Pell, will act in collaboration with the Secretary of State and is in charge of “supervision and vigilance” over all administrative and financial activities at the Vatican. It is charged with implementing the norms and suggestions made by the Council for the Economy.

The secretariat will “monitor activities of the dicasteries” and other Vatican agencies, making sure they carry out their activities “efficiently” and “prudently” while funding pre-approved programs and projects. Spending must follow approved budget plans and book-keeping should conform to the new norms.

Cardinal Pell’s office will provide assistance and support to all Vatican offices and organisations so they can implement standardised norms and procedures and better manage their financial and administrative affairs. It will have the authority to conduct onsite “checks” at any of the Vatican offices.

If the secretariat discovers any “possible damage” to assets or to the Vatican “patrimony,” it can make sure corrective measures are taken or “where opportune, civil or criminal action and administrative sanctions.”

To ensure a better separation of powers, the secretariat will have to maintain two separate sections each headed by a “prelate secretary” with one dealing with the Vatican’s administrative activities and the other with financial oversights and controls. It added that during a “sede vacante,” the interim period before the election of a new Pope, the two secretaries, and not the prefect, will govern the secretariat.

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Francis: Woe to hypocrites who act like “fake saints”

 

A moment of prayer

(©Ansa)

(©Ansa) A moment of prayer

At this morning’s mass in St. Martha’s House, the Pope said those “who say all the right things, but do the exact opposite” are “liars”. Instead faithful should “learn to do good”, defending “those who no one remembers”. “The Lord always forgives everything”

Taken from Vatican Insider

Better a sinner – since everyone is a sinner and God forgives sins – than a hypocrite who “says all the right things but does the exact opposite”. At this morning’s mass in St. Martha’s House Pope Francis reflected on t h vocation of holiness, commenting on the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Scribes in the Gospel of the day. “We are all clever and always find a path that is not right, to seem more virtuous than we are: it is the path of hypocrisy,” Vatican Radio quotes the Pope saying in its summary of Francis’ homily.

 

God “generously forgives” those who “learn to do good”, but what he doesn’t forgive is “hypocrisy and fake saints”, Francis explained.

 

The Pope was reflecting on the first reading from Isaiah, which he described as an “invitation and an imperative” that comes directly from God: “Cease to do evil, learn to do good” defending orphans and widows, namely “those who no one remembers”.  Pope Francis said this category includes the “abandoned elderly”, “children who do not go to school”, and those “who do not know how to make the sign of the Cross”.

 

In addition to the imperative and the invitation, there is also a call to conversion: “But how can I convert? ‘By learning to do right!’. Conversion. You cannot remove the filth of the heart as you would remove a stain: we go to the dry cleaner and leave cleansed … This filth is removed by ‘doing': taking a different path, a different path from that of evil. ‘Learn to do right!’, That is, the path of doing good. And how do I do good? It’s simple! ‘Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow’. Remember that in Israel the poorest and most needy were orphans and widows: do justice to them, go there to the wounds of humanity, where there is so much pain … And by doing so, by doing good, you will cleanse your heart.”

 

“A cleansed heart is promised God’s forgiveness.  God does not keep account of the sins of those who concretely love their neighbours.  “If you do this, if you take this path to which I invite you – the Lord tells us – ‘though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’. It is an exaggeration, the Lord exaggerates: but it is the truth! The Lord gives us the gift of His forgiveness. The Lord forgives generously. ‘I forgive you this much, then we’ll see about the rest….’ No, no! The Lord always forgives everything! Everything! But if you want to be forgiven, you must set out on the path of doing good. This is the gift!”

 

The Gospel of the day, instead, presents the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Scribes, those “who say all the right things, but do the exact opposite. We are all clever and always find a path that is not right, to seem more virtuous than we are: it is the path of hypocrisy”. “They pretend to convert, but their heart is a lie: they are liars! It ‘a lie … Their heart does not belong to the Lord; their heart belongs to the father of all lies, Satan. And this is fake holiness. Jesus preferred sinners a thousand times to these. Why? Because sinners told the truth about themselves. ‘Get away from me, Lord, I am a sinner!': Peter once said. One of those [the hypocrites] never says that! ‘Thank you Lord, that I am not a sinner, that I am righteous  … In the second week of Lent we have these three words to think about, to ponder: the invitation to conversion; the gift that the Lord will give us, which is great forgiveness, a great forgiveness; and the trap — that is, pretending to convert, while choosing the path of hypocrisy”.

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Francis: It is a sin to abandon or discard the elderly

 
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An eldely woman sits alone

(©Lapresse)

(©Lapresse) An eldely woman sits alone

At today’s General Audience the Pope continued his series of catecheses on the family, focusing on grandparents: the elderly are not deadweights and they are not aliens, a society without gratuity is a perverse society

Iacopo Scaramuzzi
vatican city

“I remember when I used to visit old age homes, I spoke to each of the people there and the conversation usually went like this: ‘How are you? And your children?’ –  ‘Fine, fine’ – ‘How many do you have? – ‘Lots.’ – ‘And do they come to visit you? – ‘Yes, yes, always, yes, they come.’ – ‘And when was the last time they came to visit?’ To which the elderly woman – I remember one in particular ­ would say: ‘Well, at Christmas.’ And we were in August! Eight months had passed without her children visiting once; abandoned for eight months! This is a mortal sin, you understand?” Pope Francis dedicated today’s General Audience in St. peter’s Square to the elderly – “grandparents, great aunts and uncles” – continuing his series of catecheses on the family.

 

“The number of elderly has gone up but our societies have not done much to make no room for them, showing a lack of respect and real consideration for their fragility and dignity,” Francis said. “As long as we are young we ignore old age as if it were a disease that should be kept at bay; then when we grow old, especially if we are poor, sick or alone, we experience the holes in a society that is built on efficiency and consequently ignores the elderly. But the elderly are an asset, they must not be ignored.”

 

Francis recalled Benedict XVI’s visit to an old age home run by the Community of Sant’Egidio (“The quality of a society, I mean of a civilization, is also judged by how it treats elderly people and by the place it gives them in community life”), reiterating: “It is true, attention for the elderly is what makes the difference within a civilization. Does a civilization show attention toward the elderly? Is there room for the elderly?” “A culture based on profit insists on making the elderly seem like a burden, like deadweights. Not only do they not produce, they are an encumbrance even: result? They are discarded. It is a horrible thing to see the elderly being discarded, it is a sin! People do not dare to say it out loud but this is what happens! There is cowardice in this addiction to a throwaway culture. But we are used to throwing people away. We want to get rid of our growing fear of weakness and vulnerability; but in doing so we increasingly make the elderly feel abandoned and not tolerated.”

 

But the elderly “should be a storehouse of wisdom for the whole of society,” the Pope stressed. Speaking off the cuff after the example he gave of the woman who had been abandoned in an old age home, the Pope told another story which resembles of the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales Lev Tolstoy had also once referred to: “When I was a child, my grandmother used to tell us a story about an elderly man who dirtied himself every time he ate because he couldn’t lift the spoon with the soup to his mouth. His son, the father of the family decided that he was to eat at a separate table in the kitchen where he was out of sight and would eat alone. This way he wouldn’t embarrass himself in front of friends who came to lunch or dinner. A few days later, the son came home and found his own son, his youngest, making something with wood, a hammer and nails. His father said: ‘What are you doing?’ – ‘I’m making a table dad’ – ‘A table? Why? – ‘So that when you grow old you can eat there’. Children are more conscious than us!” The Church cannot and does not want to conform to a mentality of intolerance, even less so one of indifference and disregard toward old age,” the Pope said.

 

“The elderly are men and women, fathers and mothers who were on the same paths as ourselves before us, in the same very house as us, facing the same very battle for a deserving life. They are men and women from whom we have received a great deal. An elderly person is not an alien. We are that elderly person: sooner or later we will inevitably grow old too, even if we don’t think about it. And if we don’t learn to treat old people well, then this is how we will also be treated.”

 

The Pope concluded by saying: “All of us elderly people are a little bit fragile. But some are particularly  vulnerable, many are alone and sick. Some depend on essential treatment and care from other people. Does this mean we will take a step back? Will we abandon them to their fate? A society without closeness, where gratuity and affection without something in exchange – even among strangers – are becoming a rarity, in a perverse society. The Church, which is faithful to the Word of God, cannot tolerate this degenerative situation. A community in which closeness and gratuity are no longer considered essential   would lose its soul. “Where the elderly are not honoured there is no future for the young.”

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In God we trust? Rest Strictly Cash

Attached below is a receipt issued by the the St.Josephs Church Mira Road where one Mr. Robert was   charged me Rs 6375/- by the Parish Priest of that Church?

That’s the amount Mr. Robert  paid to conduct 3 Bible Study sessions as part of the Archdiocese requirements to be commissioned as a Word Minister.

Is the  parish so short of funds?

Is this money shown in the Parish Accounts?

Is the parish out to make money out of Bible Study, which is connected to Re-Evangelization and foster Biblical literacy.

Shame , Shame and More Shame on these type of Parish Priests.

INFANT JESUS HALL RECEIPT

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Pope at Angelus: Lent is a time of battle against evil

 Pope Francis said Lent is a time where we struggle against the temptations of Satan and worldliness.  His words came at his Sunday Angelus address at the end of which he announced the distribution of 50,000 free copies of a pocket-sized booklet called “Safeguard your Heart” containing reflections on Jesus’ teachings.  Many of those distributing the booklets to the pilgrims present in St Peter’s Square were homeless people.

In his Angelus address the Pope recalled how Jesus went into the solitude of the wilderness for 40 days where he successfully overcame temptations in “a hand-to-hand combat” with Satan. And through his victory over Satan, he said, “we have all triumphed but we need to protect this victory in our daily lives.”

He went on to explain how in the wilderness we can listen to God’s voice and that of the tempter. And we listen to God’s voice through his words and that why it’s important to read the Holy Scriptures because otherwise we’re unable to resist the lure of the evil one.  The Pope said it was for this reason that he wanted to renew his advice to the faithful to read the Gospel every day and reflect on its meaning, even for just 10 minutes and carry around a copy in one’s pocket or bag every day. The Lenten wilderness, he continued, “helps us to say ‘no’ to worldliness, to “idols”, it helps us to make courageous choices in line with the Gospel and to strengthen our solidarity with our brothers and sisters.”

He concluded by reminding those present that he and other members of the Roman Curia would be beginning their spiritual retreat later on Sunday.  Pray for us, he urged, so that in this “wilderness” of the spiritual exercises “we can hear Jesus’ voice and also correct the many defects that we all have and thereby overcome the temptations that attack us every day.”

In his address following the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis announced a personal initiative of his which was the distribution of 50,000 free copies of a small booklet to those present in St Peter’s Square.  Holding up the pocket-sized booklet which is entitled “Safeguard your Heart,” the Pope explained that it contains several key “teachings of Jesus and the essential tenets of our faith.” These included, he said, “the seven sacraments, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the 10 commandments, the virtues and works of charity.”

Pope Francis said a group of volunteers, including many homeless people, were distributing it to the pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square.  He urged everybody to take a copy of the booklet and carry it around with them to help in their conversion and spiritual growth which always comes from the heart. It’s there, he stressed, that we play out the daily choice “between good and evil, between worldliness and the Gospel, between indifference and sharing.” “Humanity needs justice, peace and love and we can have this only by returning with our hearts towards God who is the source of all this.”

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To feed the great art of preaching we need to step outside our churches

Pope Francis and Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the papal vicar for Rome (Photo: CNS)

Famous preachers used to attract people far and wide – sadly that tradition no longer continues

The Pope has had his annual Lenten meeting with the clergy of the Diocese of Rome in which he spoke of matters liturgical. But before the Pope appeared, the assembled clergy were addressed by the Cardinal Vicar, Agostino Vallini, who has care of the day-to-day running of the diocese. Among other things, the cardinal had this to say about the art of preaching:

‘A good homily leaves its mark,’ he said, while a homily ‘that is lacking does not bear fruit and, on the contrary, can even make people give up on Mass.’

‘We want our words to set people’s hearts on fire’ and want the faithful ‘to be enlightened and encouraged to live a new life and never be forced to suffer through our homilies,’ he said.

The cardinal’s words are refreshing in that they are realistic. He makes the very good point, which we all know to be true, that many people stop going to Mass because they find the sermons so boring; whereas, ironically, sermons are supposed to be a draw.

There once was a time when people used to go to Mass in certain churches to hear famous and fashionable preachers. This used to be the case at the Jesuit Church in Farm Street many years ago. More recently it was the case with the late Fr Jean-Marie Charles-Roux at Ely Place, who used to attract people from far and wide. If one goes back in the Church’s history, many of the saints were well known preachers, who used to draw immense crowds, often to sermons preached out of doors and outside Mass. This was equally true of some of the great Protestant divines of yesteryear, notably the itinerant Methodists, such as Charles Wesley. But all this seems to be in the past now. I cannot think of a single Catholic priest who is famous as a preacher these days. There does not seem to be anyone like Archbishop Fulton Sheen around, though there are one or two Anglicans who draw large congregations thanks to their clear and arresting preaching of the Gospel.

So what, then, is to be done? The usual answer is that seminaries must do more in the way they prepare men for ordination. This is quite true, but I am not sure that this is enough of itself. Recently I wrote that the sermon at Mass has become better in that it is based now (or should be) on the readings. But maybe we need to “feed” the art of preaching by going beyond the setting of the Mass.

The sermon at Mass is both restricted as regards time and subject matter. Moreover it is also only reaching an audience that is in one important sense already converted. Given that most Catholic evangelisation is directed to the end of getting people to approach the sacraments, those at Mass are already approaching the sacraments, and thus not the sort of people who need to be encouraged to go to Church in the first place.

Preaching outside Mass could do what the sermon is traditionally supposed to do – awake consciences, and stir up hearts – and get people into Church.

Recently David Gelernter wrote as follows in First Things:

The pope must go to his own backyard and preach: to Berlin and Paris and London; must walk out into the center of Trafalgar Square, or some such place, and preach for his life and the life of Europe and Christianity and, ultimately, mankind. I understand that popes are not roving preachers; are not Franciscans, evangelicals, or preening curates in Trollope novels. But they are bishops, shepherds of the whole Christian flock; and a shepherd who sees this sort of catastrophe approach must do something. Worrying about the nuances of doctrine on homosexuality while Europe’s churches are converted one by one into restaurants and health clubs and (who knows?) discount tire shops is a mistake.

The whole article is worth reading, but it is the point about Trafalgar Square that I like. The sermon needs to come out of the church building and into the public space. The only question is how?

The answer is, funnily enough, to “de-religionise” religion. This does not mean what you may think it means at first. Because religion is perceived as a massive turn off, the preaching of the Gospel needs to shed its off-putting cultural baggage which stops people listening, and present the core message of the Gospel in a fresh way. In other words, all you Seventies fossils out there, throw away your tambourines! Sticking to a strategy that simply does not work is not the way forward: we need a new strategy.

The question-and-answer session that the Pope did with his priests is a good example, one that was pioneered by Benedict XVI. Here is a suggestion: why doesn’t every bishop do that, and not just with his priests, but with the lay people of the diocese as well? It might start a real conversation, it might raise important questions, and it might get people to start the search for answers. True, a whole load of the “wrong sort” of people might turn up – but that would be an advantage

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Francis: Paying employees off the books is a very serious sin

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Working with a view

At this morning’s mass at St. Martha’s House, Francis said faithful are called to act coherently: “those who treat people who depend on them unfairly are not good Christians”

Domenico Agasso jr Taken from Vatican Insider
RomeNever use the Lord to cover up injustices. This was Francis’ call at this morning’s mass in St. Martha’s House. Christians must live their love for God and for their neighbour coherently, particularly at Lent.

 

The Pope warned against the kind of attitude that sees people sending cheques to the Church but them behaving unfairly with their own children, grandparents and employees. 

 

Pope Francis focused today’s meditation on a text by Isaiah chosen for today’s first reading: he underlined the importance of distinguishing between “the formal and the real”: for God, “not eating meat but then fighting and exploiting employees is not fasting”. Hence His Son condemns the Pharisees: they respect observances on the outside but without heartfelt sincerity.

 

The kind of fasting Christ wants involves breaking the chains of injustice, setting the oppressed free, dressing those without clothes and acting fairly: “This is what real fasting is about, fasting not just on the outside, it is not just an external observance, it is something that comes from the heart.”

 

“The tables of the law set out our duties toward God and our duties toward our neighbours. Both go together,” Francis said. “I cannot say: ‘Well, I’ll just obey the first three Commandments … and the others more or less.” No, if you do not do these, then you can’t do that and if you do this, then you must do this. They go hand in hand: love for God and love for one’s neighbour go together and if you want to do penance, really not formally, you must do penance before God and with your brother and neighbour.”

 

You may have faith but, as the Apostle James says, if you do not “show this in actions, what is the use?”  If someone goes to mass every Sunday and receives communion, you may ask him or her: “And what is your relationship with your employees like? Do you pay them “under the table”? Do you pay them the right salary? Do you pay contributions for their pension? Health insurance?” “How many faithful, men and women, have faith but split the tables of the law: ‘Yes, yes, I do this’ – ‘But do you ever donate?’ – ‘Yes, yes, I send a cheque to the Church’ – ‘Ah, good, ok. But are you generous and fair to those within your Church, your home, those who depend on you – be they your children, grandparents or employees?’ You cannot make offerings to the Church and at the same time treat your employees unfairly. This is a very serious sin: it is using God to cover up injustice.”

 

“Here is what the Prophet Isaiah shows us in the name of the Lord”: “those who treat people who depend on them unfairly are not good Christians”; and “those who do not give up something they need in order to give it to someone else who is in need” is not a good Christian either.

 

This is what the journey of Lent is: “it is a double journey, toward God and one’s neighbour. It is real therefore, not merely formal,” Francis pointed out. “It is not about giving up meat only on a Friday, making a small gesture and then allowing selfishness, exploitation of others and the ignorance of the poor to grow.”

 

Francis recalled: some people go to hospital for treatment and see a doctor immediately because they are members of a health insurance fund: “It is a good thing. But tell me, have you thought of those who don’t have this social relationship with the hospital and when they get there they have to wait 6, 7 or 8 hours, even when it is an emergency?”

 

In Rome there are people who live like this and Lent is a time to “think about them: what can I do for the children and the elderly who are not able to see a doctor?” who sometimes wait around for “8 hours and then they are told to come back a week later.” “What do you do for these people?” the pope asked. “What will your Lent be like?”

 

“‘Thank God I have a family that obeys the Commandments, we’re ok…” – ‘But this Lent, is there space in your heart for those who have not obeyed the Commandments? Who have erred and are now in prison?’- “‘Not with those people no …’ – ‘But they are in prison, if you are not in prison it means the Lord has helped you not to err. Does your heart have any space for those in prison? Do you pray for them, that the Lord may help them turn their life around?’”

 

Francis ended with a prayer: “Lord, accompany us on our Lenten journey, so that external observance may correspond to a profound renewal of the Spirit. May the Lord grant us this grace.”

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