VATICAN CITY (RNS) — Pope Francis continued his cleanup of Vatican funds by stripping the highly effective division of the Secretariat of State of its monetary belongings, the Vatican introduced Monday (Dec. 28). The funds had come underneath scrutiny in 2019 after a questionable funding in luxurious residences in London.
The brand new papal decree will shift the funds held by the Secretariat of State to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, or APSA, which already handles the Vatican’s funding portfolio and actual property holdings. APSA may even oversee the pope’s private account and Peter’s Pence, a worldwide fund to maintain the pope’s charitable actions.
Whereas the Secretariat of State “represents a necessary reference level for the actions of the Roman Curia,” the pope’s decree reads, “it’s not acceptable for it to carry out these financial and monetary features already attributed to different competent departments.”
Whereas APSA is taken into account among the many Vatican’s least clear entities, it has earned Francis’ belief after he appointed Bishop Nunzio Galantino, a trusted ally, as its head in June 2018.
As soon as transferred to APSA, the Secretariat of State accounts will probably be reviewed by the Secretariat for the Financial system, an company created by Pope Francis in 2014 to spearhead his monetary reform. The Secretariat for the Financial system, led by the Rev. Juan Antonio Guerrero, a Jesuit priest, may even act as an adviser to the pope on financial and monetary issues.
The Secretariat of State has till Feb. 4 to ship all its liquid belongings to the APSA account for the “Basic Funds of the Holy See.” It is going to now not train monetary oversight of different Vatican departments, the papal decree states, suggesting that the executive workplaces of the Secretariat of State must be reorganized or maybe even eradicated.
The Secretariat of State, established within the fifteenth century, is likely one of the strongest departments of the Vatican, and for hundreds of years has overseen every part from church administration to the Vatican’s diplomatic affairs. It controls the papal seal and different historical symbols of pontifical energy.
Reforms underneath Pope John Paul II break up it into two separate businesses, one to handle inner affairs and the opposite tending to international relations. In 2017 Pope Francis added the Part for Diplomatic Workers, an administrative workplace that oversees the appointments of papal nuncios and associated posts.
Whereas the Secretariat of State’s energy will nonetheless be appreciable, the Secretariat for the Financial system and APSA will probably be strengthened by the brand new decree.
In 2019 media shops reported a 2014 funding of over $200 million of Vatican funds from the Secretariat of State into luxurious buildings in London’s Chelsea neighborhood. A Vatican probe into the funding deal led to the suspension of five Vatican employees final 12 months and is regarded as what led Pope Francis to remove the privileges of Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who served as substitute of the Secretariat of State, a prime deputy to the secretary of state, from 2011 to 2018.
Francis had already launched his reform of the Vatican’s funds, Galantino stated in an interview with media on Monday, however “the query of the London actual property helped to know what management mechanisms needed to be strengthened.”
“We realized many issues due to it: not solely how a lot we misplaced — a facet that we’re nonetheless evaluating — but additionally how and why we misplaced it,” the bishop added.
Some media reviews instructed that a number of the funds for the actual property deal had been taken from Peter’s Pence, donations made by particular person Catholics all over the world. Becciu vehemently denies using Peter’s Pence together with all different accusations.
“Regarding Peter’s Pence, the pope at all times requested that there be a extra marked distinction from different obtainable funds,” Galantino stated.
In a letter final August to the present secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Francis signaled his intention to shift monetary management from the Secretariat to APSA and made clear that any transfer shouldn’t be interpreted as disapproval of its present management.
“The Secretariat of State is with little question the Dicastery that almost all carefully and immediately helps the pope’s actions,” the pope wrote to Parolin, whereas emphasizing the necessity to guarantee transparency within the Vatican’s monetary dealings.
The pope expressed explicit concern concerning the London deal within the letter and urged that the Vatican exit the funding as quickly as attainable to keep away from “reputational dangers.”
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni informed journalists that Francis met with Parolin; Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, Becciu’s successor as substitute of the Secretariat of State; Galantino; Guerrero; and the secretary-general of the Governatorate of Vatican Metropolis State, Bishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, to debate the reform on Nov. 4.
This new decree is just the most recent transfer to reshape how the Vatican manages and invests cash. Pointing to efforts made by Francis’ predecessor, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, Galantino stated, “It’s a journey that began some time in the past.”