5. dec. 2014
Catholic Herald, 4. dec. 2014:
In an exclusive article Cardinal George Pell explains his mission to sort out the Vatican's finances
Recently a young Spanish lad asked me to explain the nature of my work in the Vatican as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, as well as the past and present economic situation of the Holy See.
Why? Because as a member of Opus Dei and a first-year university student, he wanted to be able to answer the questions of his fellow students and defend the Church.
A member of a British parliamentary delegation put it in a somewhat different way: why did the authorities allow the situation to lurch along, disregarding modern accounting standards, for so many decades?
The Swiss layman René Brülhart has just become the first lay chairman of the AIF. Its board principally comprises international (lay) experts. Irregularities or suspected crimes are referred to the Vatican authorities when they occur within the Vatican and are reported to other national authorities, such as Italy, when appropriate.
When we return to the last years of Benedict XVI’s pontificate, we find that troubles had returned to the Vatican bank.
Since his election Pope Francis has explicitly endorsed the programme of financial reforms, which are well under way and already past the point where it would be possible to return to the “bad old days”. Much remains to be done, but the primary structural reforms are in place.
When Pope Francis realised that the Vatican financial systems had evolved in such a way that it was impossible for anyone to know accurately what was going on overall, he appointed an international body of lay experts to examine the situation and propose a reform programme.
The group came to be known as the Organisation for the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA) and was led by Joseph Zahra, a senior Maltese banker. Senior executives charged nothing for their services, met regularly over 10 months and put together the reform package which is being implemented now. For generations to come, the Church will be very much in their debt. Three basic principles lay at the heart of their work. They are not original – and not exactly rocket science.
A German princess once told me that many used to think of the Vatican as being like an old noble family slowly sliding towards bankruptcy. They were expected to be incompetent, extravagant and easy pickings for thieves. Already this misapprehension is dissolving.
Donors expect their gifts to be handled efficiently and honestly, so that the best returns are achieved to finance the works of the Church, especially those aimed at preaching the Gospel and helping the poor escape from poverty. A Church for the poor should not be poorly managed
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