(Source: CD/Vatican News)
The funds managed by the Vatican Secretariat of State will soon be managed by the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) and controlled by the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy (SPE).
– More “subsidiarity” to avoid “overlapping, fragmentation or unnecessary and harmful duplication” in Vatican finances
The move was explained by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, who stated that on Wednesday November 4, Pope Francis presided over a meeting attended by the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin; the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra; the Secretary General of the Governorate of Vatican City State, Bishop Fernando Vergez; the President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, Bishop Nunzio Galantino; and the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, Fr Juan Antonio Guerrero.
The purpose of the meeting was to implement what Pope Francis had asked for in a letter addressed to the Secretary of State last August 25, concerning the transfer of the administrative management of the funds of the Secretariat of State to the APSA and their control at the SPE.
Bruni said, “In the same meeting the Pope set up the ‘Commission of transfer and control’, which comes into operation with immediate effect, to complete, in the next three months, the provisions of the letter to the Secretary of State”.
The Commission is composed of the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, the President of APSA and the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.
The letter addressed to Cardinal Parolin in August, in which Pope Francis ordered the transfer, was also distributed.
“As part of the reform of the Curia, I have reflected and prayed for the opportunity to give an impulse that will allow an ever better organisation of economic and financial activities, continuing in the line of a management that is, according to the wishes of all, more evangelical”, the Pope’s letter reads.
The pontiff says it is “of the utmost importance” that the mission of each economic and financial entity be clearly defined “in order to avoid overlapping, fragmentation or unnecessary and harmful duplication”.
His letter explains that “the Secretariat of State is without a shadow of a doubt the Dicastery that most closely and directly supports the action” of the Pope “in his mission, representing an essential point of reference in the life of the Curia and the Dicasteries that are part of it”.
“However, it does not seem necessary or opportune that the Secretariat of State should perform all the functions that are already assigned to other Dicasteries.
“It is preferable, therefore, that the principle of subsidiarity be implemented also in economic and financial matters, without prejudice to the specific role of the Secretariat of State and the indispensable task it performs”.
In light of this, Francis directs that the Secretariat of State “transfer the management and administration of all financial funds and real estate assets to APSA, which will in any case maintain their current purpose”.
The letter continues: “particular attention must be paid to the investments made in London and the Centurion fund, from which we must exit as soon as possible, or at least, dispose of them in such a way as to eliminate all reputational risks”.
Furthermore, the Pope has established that “all the funds that have so far been administered by the Secretariat of State are to be incorporated into the consolidated budget of the Holy See”, and that in economic and financial matters the Secretariat of State shall operate “by means of a budget approved through the usual mechanisms, with its own procedures required of any Dicastery, except for reserved matters that are subject to secrecy, approved by the Commission appointed for this purpose”.
Control and supervision over all the entities of the Roman Curia is the responsibility of the Secretariat for the Economy.
The Secretariat of State, in matters of economic and financial supervision, “shall have no responsibility for the supervision and control of any Entity of the Holy See, nor of those things connected with it”. Bearing in mind that “the Secretariat of State will not have to administer or manage assets, it will be appropriate for it to redefine its administrative office, or assess the necessity of its existence”.
– APSA President says no ‘Peter’s Pence’ money used for London property buy
The Pope’s latest moves in his clean-up of the Vatican economy and his transfer of financial authority away from the Secretariat of State comes as the Vatican Museums and Pontifical Villas again closed to the public November 4 as a result of new coronavirus restrictions in Italy, thus depriving the Holy See of as much as 400,000 euros in daily revenue.
Francis’ new reforms also arrive after APSA President Galantino admitted October 31 that the Holy See had incurred debts of between 73 and 166 million euros on the controversial real estate deal in London, on Sloane Avenue in Chelsea.
Despite persistent rumours to the contrary, Galantino affirmed that the debts were not covered by a Vatican “plundering” of the ‘Peter’s Pence’ donations of faithful from around the world.
“The losses of the London investment were borne by the reserve fund of the [Secretariat of State], and not by Peter’s Pence or by the one available to the Holy Father”, the APSA President said in that regard.
Nonetheless, Galantino acknowledged that “errors” had been made with respect to the Sloane Avenue investment and other Vatican financial ventures.
“The first is to trust, with complete confidence, managers” and outside middlemen to handle Vatican investments “without any control by the Secretariat of State. The end results of this way of doing things clearly constitute a mistake” that the Vatican has paid for dearly in terms of money and reputation, Galantino rued.
“The second mistake is that up to now, the Secretariat of State was subject to little obligation in reporting nor was it made to ask for any authorisation for acts of extraordinary administration as other dicasteries are required to do”, he continued – a shortcoming now remedied by the Pope’s move to transfer the financial authority of the Secretariat of State to APSA.