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The Pope’s newly announced finance minister has said that the working languages of the forthcoming Secretariat for the Economy will be English as well as Italian, a sign that the new Vatican department will be run as a global institution.
Cardinal George Pell, whom Pope Francis announced last week would head the Secretariat which will have authority over all the financial and administrative activities of the Holy See, said the Italian-dominated curia and his Anglo-Saxon appointment marked “two different ways of thinking”.
“It will be a change for some people who bring a different level of understanding and patterns of thought,” he told The Boston Globe. “There will probably have to be formation courses to explain what’s needed.”
He added with a smile that English is still seen as “the language of the enemy” in the Vatican, evoking memories of King Henry VIII and the rise of Protestantism.
He explained that making English one of the department’s working languages was part of an effort to recruit internationally to fill critical roles. “Not only will the controlling board be international, but so will the staff,” he said.
Pell said he hoped to implement rational accounting measures, turning the Vatican from an “embarrassment” into a model of good practice.
“There’s never been anything like this in the Vatican that’s explicitly designed to foster a system of checks and balances,” he added.
He insisted that he has the backing of Pope Francis and other cardinals, and that with a governing council and staff it won’t be just “one isolated colonial barging around.”
He added that he believed the abolition of the scandal-hit Vatican bank was now unlikely.