18 June 2020, The Tablet

The curious case of the Vatican and a UK property deal


The curious case of the Vatican and a UK property deal

60 Sloane Avenue in west London
Photo: Flickr, Banalities

 

The investigation into a multi-million-pound property deal in west London will be a crucial test of whether Pope Francis can stamp his authority on the Vatican’s accounts and succeed in bringing transparency and reform to the Holy See’s notoriously murky finances

Situated in one of London’s most expensive residential areas, 60 Sloane Avenue shares the distinctive terracotta facade of nearby Harrods. The property was built by the department store as a car showroom but was never completed. Today, the Chelsea palazzo, sprawling across more than 180,000 sq ft, is at the centre of a Vatican investigation into corruption.

The Holy See’s finances have been a source of scandal for decades, if not centuries. This case will be a crucial test of whether Pope Francis can succeed in bringing long overdue transparency and reform. On 1 June, he issued tough new rules regarding the Holy See’s work with outside contractors, which, had they been in place earlier, could have prevented it from entering into business with Gianluigi Torzi, arrested by the Vatican this month.

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