The recent internal investigations over alleged corruption in the Holy See show that Vatican financial reforms are working, Pope Francis has said.
Driving the news
The Pope was speaking Tuesday in a press conference on his flight back to Rome from Japan, where he has been on a visit that also took him to Thailand.
Though Francis said it can be “good administration” to “purchase a property, rent it out and then sell it”, he added that the alleged Vatican buy of a luxury London building with the ‘Peter’s Pence’ donations of the faithful was a “scandal”.
Vatican officials “did things that appear not to be clean”, the Pope admitted.
“But the accusation did not come from outside. The economic reform, already introduced by Benedict XVI, was implemented, and it was the internal Auditor who said: something bad is going on here, something’s not right”, Francis explained.
The Pope added he was “pleased” by this turn of events “because it shows the Vatican administration now has the resources to shed light on the bad things that happen internally, like in this case”.
“And if it is not the case of the London property – because this remains unclear – there was corruption nonetheless”, Francis acknowledged.
“Today, although there is the presumption of innocence” for the five Vatican employees suspended after police raids in the Holy See October, “there is capital that is not administered well, even corruptly”, the Pope continued.
“There is corruption. We can see it. The results of the [raids] will show whether [the employees] are guilty or not.
“It’s a bad thing, it is not good for these things to be happening inside the Vatican.
“But they are being resolved by internal mechanisms that Pope Benedict XVI introduced, and that are beginning to work.
“I thank God for this. I don’t thank him for the corruption, but because the Vatican’s control system works well”.
On the subject of the other recent controversy over Vatican finances – the surprise resignations of a Vatican financial watchdog director and his president – the Pope said that, these setbacks aside, “the Vatican has made progress in its administration”.
What has been “a little worrying”, Francis admitted, has been the Vatican’s suspension from the internal systems of the Egmont Group, an informal network of national financial intelligence units around the world.
The Egmont Group “helps a lot but it does not have the authoritative control of Moneyval”, the Pope explained, referring with this last to the Council of Europe anti-money laundering and terrorism financing group which is slated to do an inspection of Holy See finances from this December.
Francis confirmed on the plane that the Moneyval inspection will go ahead, despite rumours to the contrary.
Why it matters
Another point from the papal in-flight press conference was Francis’ confirmation that a long-rumoured encyclical on non-violence is in fact in the works.
“Yes, the plan [for the encyclical] exists, but the next Pope will do it… There are other projects on the back burner. One of them is on peace. It’s maturing. I feel I will do it when the time comes”, Francis said.
“The ugly hypocrisy of the ‘arms trade’. Christian countries, European countries that talk about peace and live off weapons”, the Pope added in his remarks on non-violence.
“This is hypocrisy, a word from the Gospels: Jesus said it in Matthew, Chapter 23. We have to stop this hypocrisy. It takes courage to say: “I can’t talk about peace, because my economy earns so much through arms sales'”.
“Today, peace is very weak but we must not be discouraged”, Francis added.
“The use of arms is a last resort. Legitimate defence must go through diplomacy, mediation. Legitimate defence with weapons is a last resort. I insist: a last resort!
“We are making ethical progress of which I approve, putting all these things into question. What is beautiful about this is that it confirms humanity moves towards good, not only toward evil”.
For the record
Also on non-violence and peace, Francis repeated a plea he made in Hiroshima, where he said that “the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possession of atomic weapons is immoral”.
“The use of nuclear weapons is immoral, that is why it must be added to the Catechism of the Catholic Church”, the Pope insisted on his flight back to Rome.
“Not only their use, but also possessing them: because an accident or the madness of some government leader, one person’s madness can destroy humanity.
“The words of Einstein come to mind: ‘The Fourth World War will be fought with sticks and stones'”.