Pope sets up a Secretariat with authority over all economic and administrative activities in the Vatican City State and the Holy See, headed by Cardinal Pell; creates an supervisory council for this body and establishes the post of Auditor General
gerard o’connell Taken from Vatican Insider
Pope Francis, in a revolutionary structural reform, has established a new Secretariat for the Economy which will have authority over all economic and administrative activities within the Holy See and the Vatican City State.
He has appointed the Australian Cardinal, George Pell, one of his eight cardinal advisors, as prefect of this new structure, and has asked him to start work as soon as possible, the Vatican said in statement breaking the news on February 24. He is expected to take up his post in Rome at the end of March. Pell said he was “deeply honored” by the Pope’s appointment.
Elected on a mandate to reform the Roman Curia, Pope Francis has moved with determination and speed, as a matter of priority, to bring all its financial operations under control, and ensure the maximum transparency, rationalization and savings in this whole area which has been plagued by revelations of corruption, mismanagement and such like over many years that have greatly damaged the Church’s image.
It should be noted however that the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR, misnamed ‘the Vatican Bank’), is not mentioned in this papal decision which comes in the form of a Motu Proprio, that is a decree “on his own initiative”, published in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican daily, on February 25. The Pope’s decision regarding the IOR will come at a later date.
The Argentinean Pope has decided that Cardinal Pell, who up to now has served as archbishop of Sydney, will prepare the final statutes and other related matters with the assistance of any necessary advisors. He will work with the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic- Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA) to complete the implementation of these changes approved by the Holy Father.
The Vatican said the Pope’s decision came after the Council of 8 Cardinal advisors and the Committee of 15 Cardinals which oversee the financial affairs of the Holy See endorsed the recommendations of “the rigorous review” conducted by the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic- Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA), set up by Pope Francis in July 2013, to complete the implementation of these changes approved by the Holy Father.
It revealed that COSEA had “recommended changes to simplify and consolidate existing management structures and improve coordination and oversight across the Holy See and Vatican City State”. It said COSEA also “recommended more formal commitment to adopting accounting standards and generally accepted financial management and reporting practices as well as enhanced internal controls, transparency and governance.”
The Vatican said the changes “will enable more formal involvement of senior and experienced experts in financial administration, planning and reporting” and also “will ensure better use of resources, improving the support available for various programs, particularly our works with the poor and marginalized.”
It said changes decided by Pope Francis include “the Establishment of a new Secretariat for the Economy which will have authority over all economic and administrative activities within the Holy See and the Vatican City State.” It said this new Secretariat “will be responsible, among other things, for preparing an annual budget for the Holy See and Vatican City State as well as financial planning and various support functions such as human resources and procurement.” The Secretariat “will also be required to prepare detailed financial statements of the Holy See and Vatican State.”
Furthermore, it said “the Secretariat for the Economy will implement policies determined by a new Council for the Economy – a 15 member Council comprised of 8 Cardinals or Bishops, reflecting various parts of the world and seven lay experts of different nationalities with strong professional financial experience.” This new Council “will meet on a regular basis, to consider policies and practices and to prepare and analyze reports on the economic-administrative activities of the Holy See.”
The new Secretariat for the Economy will be headed by a Cardinal Prefect, the Vatican said, and while he will report to “the Council for the Economy”, he will respond directly to the Pope, which considerably strengthens his position.
The Cardinal Prefect will be supported by a Secretary-General in the management of day to day activities, and in an interview here on Monday Pell announced that the Spanish Monsignor Luis Vallejo Balda, the Secretary of COSEA, will have this role.
In addition to all this, to ensure that there is utmost transparency and control over all the financial operations, the Vatican said the new arrangements include the appointment of an Auditor-General, “appointed by the Holy Father. He “will be empowered to conduct audits of any agency of the Holy See and Vatican City State at any time.”
The Vatican said the changes decided upon by the Pope “will confirm the role of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) as the Central bank of the Vatican with all the obligations and responsibilities of similar institutions around the world.” Furthermore, “the Financial Information Authority (AIF) will continue to undertake its current and critical role of prudential supervision and regulation of activities within the Holy See and Vatican City State.”