09 October 2014, The Tablet

Cardinals knew nothing of Vatican finances for years, says Pope’s troubleshooter

by Christopher Lamb in Rome

The man picked by Pope Francis to sort out the Vatican’s finances admitted last night that details of the Holy See’s financial health remained opaque for many years to the very committee supposed to be overseeing them.

Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, who also sits on the Pope’s nine-member advisory body, recalled how he had sat on a 15-member committee of cardinals whose job was to oversee the finances of the Vatican.

“For seven or eight years I was on a committee that was supposed to be overlooking Vatican finances. The only thing that was absolutely clear is that we didn’t know what was going on!” he said last night at the Rome launch of the Crux website at the North American College.

He recalled that Cardinal Joachim Meisner, the 80-year-old Archbishop Emeritus of Cologne, explained to Cardinal Pell how he for 23 years had tried “to improve things”.

Cardinal Pell has been given a mandate by Pope Francis to reform both the finances and the administration of the Vatican through the creation of the new Secretariat for the Economy.

Pell, 72, added that he was a little surprised to be asked to take on the job by Francis because he had been “the last man standing” of the committee of 15. He said all the cardinals “who had been batting with me” were now retired, he said.

Earlier this year he unveiled a new “economic framework” for the Holy See that will mean regular audits, improved transparency and oversight of lay experts. He is also moving to internationalise the Roman Curia and the cardinal’s secretariat has English, alongside Italian, as one of the working languages.

Above: The Institute for the Works of Religion, also known as the Vatican bank. Photo: CNS

  Loading ...
Get Instant Access
Subscribe to The Tablet for just £7.99

Subscribe today to take advantage of our introductory offers and enjoy 30 days' access for just £7.99