The Pope wants to get in the know not just about the Vatican bank’s (IOR) activities, but about the Holy See’s economic and administrative activities as a whole.
To do this, he has issued a chirograph – similar to the one issued for the IOR commission – announcing the establishment of another commission that will investigate APSA, the Governorate and other Holy See institutions.
The chirograph dated 18 July says that the new commission will gather information, report to the Pope and work with the Council of cardinals to examine the Holy See’s organisational and economic problems.
The aim is to introduce reforms to the institutions of the Holy See “for the simplification and rationalisation of the existing bodies and more careful planning of the economic activities of all the Vatican Administrations.”
This is in order to “avoid the misuse of economic resources, to improve transparency in the processes of purchasing goods and services; to refine the administration of goods and real estate; to work with ever greater prudence in the financial sphere; to ensure the correct application of accounting principles; and to guarantee healthcare and social security benefits to those eligible.”
As is the case with the IOR commission, “professional secrecy and other possible restrictions established by law shall neither curtail nor restrict the access of the Commission to documents, data and information necessary for the fulfilment of the duties entrusted to it.”
The workgroup will keep the Pope up to date on its findings and will deliver its entire results’ archive over to the Pope when the investigation is complete.
The commission will be made up of lay people, legal, economic, financial and organisational experts who have previously worked as consultants or auditors for Vatican financial or ecclesiastical institutions.
The commission’s only cleric will be its secretary, Mgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, Secretary of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See. The other members are: Joseph F.X. Zahra (Malta), the commission’s president; Jean-Baptiste de Franssu (France); Enrique Llano (Spain); Jochen Messemer (Germany); Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui (Italy); Jean Videlain-Sevestre (France) and George Yeo (Singapore). Zahra and Messemerare international auditors of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
The commission along with its IOR counterpart were set up for similar reasons. The emergency decision to establish the IOR commission was taken in light of new developments in the judicial inquiries.
But the IOR is not the only institution that deals with the Holy See’s assets: the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA), makes investments and manages a significant portion of the Holy See’s assets.
The Governorate is responsible for the every day running of the Vatican City State and therefore handles contracts for the maintenance, construction and management of the State’s structures. The investigation is key to helping the Vatican manage expenditure in a rational way, avoid wasting resources which could be put to better use elsewhere and paying a higher price for contracts than it should.
Apart from APSA and the Governorate, which also looks after the Vatican Museums, there is also the issue of the management of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide’s properties.
According to the last Curia reform, the Holy See’s Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, headed by Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi – who is close to Bertone – should have had the same role as the Italian Court of Audit, similar to the U.S.’s Government Accountability Office.
In other words, a sort of general inspectorate that has the authority to intervene in the financial running of other institutions. This never happened and this is partly why commissions are needed, to collect information and come up with proposed solutions.
Francis wants to reform these institutions and most importantly he wants cut waste and useless spending, as quickly as possible.
The work of the new commission will be invaluable when combined with that which will be carried out by the commission of eight cardinals who have been given the task of looking into a reform of the Roman Curia and helping Francis in the government of the universal Church.
The commission will set to work as soon as possible. An initial meeting is expected to take place when Pope Francis returns from Brazil.
Francis “hopes for a happy and productive collaboration between the Commission and the Vatican Administrations associated with its work”.