It was announced today that Pope Francis has overhauled the management of Vatican economic affairs, establishing two new governing bodies charged with overseeing the Holy See’s finances.
In an apostolic letter motu proprio (“on his own initiative”) the Holy Father establishes a new Council for the Economy, which will consist of eight cardinals or bishops and seven lay persons with financial expertise. According to the Vatican, this council “will meet on a regular basis and to consider policies and practices and to prepare and analyze reports on the economic-administrative activities of the Holy See.” The names of clerical and lay members of the council have not been released.
To oversee the implementation of the economic policies put in place by the council, Pope Francis has established the Secretariat for the Economy, “which will have authority over all economic and administrative activities within the Holy See and the Vatican City State,” according to the Vatican Press Office. “The 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.”
The prefect of this new secretariat will be Cardinal George Pell, currently archbishop of Sydney, Australia and a member of Pope Francis’ advisory council of eight cardinals. In a letter to his staff, Cardinal Pell indicated that he will be taking up his new post at the end of March, leaving the archdiocese he has led for nearly 14 years.
Interestingly, the motu proprio does not mention the Institute for the Works of Religion—the beleaguered “Vatican Bank”—or how it will function within the revamped Vatican financial structure.
Catholic News Service’s Francis X. Rocca spoke about the motu proprio with Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, South Africa, who was a member of the advisory body that approved the changes during meetings last week:
Cardinal Pell is a “man who’s got financial things at his fingertips, and he’s a man who’s very decisive, and I think he’s a got a good understanding of how Roman affairs work,” South African Cardinal Wilfred F. Napier of Durban, who sat on one of the advisory panels that reviewed the arrangements before the pope’s decision …
“Something really to be needed to be done,” Cardinal Napier said of the pope’s actions. “For instance, there was no serious budgeting that you could call budgeting. … It was quite clear that some of the procedures and processes that were in place were not adequate for today’s world.”