Pope Francis to Moneyval: ‘Money must serve, not rule’

Vatican City, Oct 8, 2020 / 09:00 am (CNA).- In a speech Thursday to Moneyval representatives evaluating the Vatican, Pope Francis emphasized that money should be at the service of human beings, not the other way around.

“Once the economy loses its human face, then we are no longer served by money, but ourselves become servants of money,” he said Oct. 8. “This is a form of idolatry against which we are called to react by reestablishing the rational order of things, which appeals to the common good, whereby ‘money must serve, not rule.’”

The pope addressed Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering watchdog, a little over halfway into its two-week on-site inspection of the Holy See and Vatican City.

The purpose of this phase of the evaluation is to judge the effectiveness of legislation and procedures toward combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. For Moneyval, this comes down to prosecution and the courts, according to a 2017 report.

Pope Francis welcomed the group and its evaluation, saying that its work to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism “is particularly dear to my heart.”

“Indeed, it is closely linked to the protection of life, the peaceful coexistence of the human race on earth, and a financial system that does not oppress those who are weakest and in greatest need. It is all linked together,” he said.

Francis stressed the connection between economic decisions and morality, noting that “the Church’s social teaching has underscored the error of the neoliberal dogma, which holds that the economic and moral orders are so completely distinct from one another that the former is in no way dependent on the latter.”

Citing his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium, he said: “In light of the present circumstances, it would seem that ‘the worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.’” 

Quoting from his new social encyclical, “Fratelli tutti,” he added: “Indeed, ‘financial speculation fundamentally aimed at quick profit continues to wreak havoc.’” 

Francis pointed to his June 1 law on the awarding of public contracts, saying it was issued “for a more effective management of resources and for the promotion of transparency, oversight, and competition.”

He also referenced an Aug. 19 ordinance from the Governorate of Vatican City which required “volunteer organizations and juridical persons of Vatican City State to report suspicious activities to the Financial Information Authority (AIF).”

“Policies against money laundering and terrorism are a means of monitoring movements of money,” he said, “and of intervening in cases where irregular or even criminal activities are detected.”

Speaking about how Jesus drove merchants from the temple, he thanked Moneyval again for its services. 

“The measures that you are evaluating are meant to promote a ‘clean finance,’ in which the ‘merchants’ are prevented from speculating in that sacred ‘temple’ which, in accordance with the Creator’s plan of love, is humanity,” he said.

Carmelo Barbagallo, president of the AIF, also addressed the Moneyval experts, noting that the next step of their evaluation would be a plenary meeting in Strasbourg, France, in 2021.

“We hope that by the end of this evaluation process, we will have demonstrated our extensive efforts to prevent and counter money laundering and terrorism financing,” Barbagallo said. “These many efforts are indeed the best proof of this jurisdiction’s strong commitment.”

“Of course, it goes without saying that we stand ready to promptly improve protocol in any possible areas of weakness that need to be addressed,” he concluded.

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