In a question and answer session with journalists, the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy said substantial progress was made with the new statutes. The balance sheets should be approved by May and APSA will soon have a new Revisor and approved statutes. The cardinal said Filoni has always been cooperative and that transparency began under Benedict XVI’s reign
iacopo scaramuzzi Taken from Vatican Insider
The Vatican intends to avoid economic scandal altogether during the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy announced by Pope Francis (8 December 2015-9 November 2016). This is according to Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the newly created Secretariat for the Economy, who said the Vatican and the Holy See’s various balance sheets should be approved by May and will then be published. The new general revisor of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) should be nominated soon and its statutes approved. The Australian cardinal denied the rumours that had circulated for weeks regarding alleged resistance from Cardinal Filoni, the Prefect of Propaganda Fide and underlined that the financial transparency operation had began during Benedict XVI’s pontificate with Mgr. Viganò , Gotti Tedeschi and Von Freyberg. “Substantial progress”, Pell stressed, was made with the recent approval of the statutes of the Vatican’s new economic bodies, which must now be implemented.
“All the work of the jubilee committee will follow the new procedures,” the cardinal said, answering journalists’ questions in Italian during a book presentation at the Vatican Radio offices this afternoon. “I am not talking about the old days,” Pell pointed out when asked how the Vatican intended to steer clear of scandals linked to the 2000 jubilee. “For the first time in Vatican history” costs will be checked beforehand and the work done for the jubilee will feature strongly in this budget plan. The former archbishop of Sydney said the Church hopes to avoid any kind of scandal and that its ambition is to achieve this during the jubilee as well. Today it was announced that a Bull of Indiction for the Jubilee of Mercy will be published on 11 April.
The hope, Pell pointed out is that the final balance sheets for 2014 and the preventive ones for 2015 will be “ready for the Council for the Economy in May”. The cardinal described a meeting he had with a group of distinguished lay Americans: “Many of them were Protestants; it was clear that one of them had studied the economic life of the Vatican and knew a great deal. Finally he said to me: I pray that you become a shining example not a cause for scandal. It seems to me this is a hope we should all carry in our hearts.”
Cardinal Pell underlined that “substantial progress” was made with the signing of the statutes of the Secretariat for the Economy, the Council for the Economy and the office of General Revisor on 22 February. Now the Vatican has the basic structure for the renewal of its financial system and must implement changes.
Soon the new statutes for APSA’s extraordinary section should come into being in about a month’s time and the creation of the Vatican Asset Management office is expected for July 2014. Referring to the last Consistory, in which the world’s cardinals were presented with the reform plan, Cardinal Pell said “some cardinals have asked to prepare something for the dioceses” for a more efficient economic management of goods and although this “is not our job, perhaps it is a requirement for the future”. Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of Propaganda Fide “suggested the possibility of creating a centre to help dioceses in the world of finance” and those responsible for Rome’s pontifical universities “are discussing the possibility of a course” to give priests and lay people training in the field of “economic administration”.
In a recent interview, South Africa’s Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, a member of the Council for the Economy, claimed Cardinal Filoni was among those who had shown resistance to the economic reform Pell was playing a part in. Answering a question about this, Pell said “Napier and I are friends” but “we have not had much resistance from propaganda Fide” and “Filoni has always cooperated with us” “Of course there is some opposition here and there, original sin does exist and nobody is perfect” but “many wish to give their contribution and it is only right that we should listen.”
Glancing back at the past, Pell wished to pay tribute to the work done by Pope Benedict XVI, who “really did try to improve the [financial] situation” with “Viganò, Gotti Tedeschi and Von Freyberg”. “We must not think that Pope Benedict did nothing and that we can now do everything: we are working on the foundations laid in the days Benedict XVI was Pope.”
Pell underlined that “co-responsibility and transparency” is “an important theme not just here in the Vatican but in the Church in general”. Co-responsibility “means above all cooperation between clerics and lay people: lay people are generally more expert than us when it comes to money. For example, in dioceses like mine back home in Australia, most members of financial committees were lay people. We need to work together as we have different contributions to make. Here in the Vatican too, we follow two principles, in response to the Holy Father’s wishes for financial reform: transparency” and the adoption of “modern procedures that are used everywhere, or almost everywhere in the Western world” because “it is easier to follow the rules and ensure truth when we know there is going to be transparency.” This did not prevent Pell from adding: “Original sin is universal, lay people who manage finances are not a guarantee against difficulties arising.”