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Cardinal Pell given new role over Vatican finances

By Sarah Mac Donald - 25 February, 2014

Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal George Pell

A major overhaul of the Vatican’s bureaucracy was announced on Monday when Pope Francis named Australia’s Cardinal George Pell as prefect of a new economics secretariat.

It is envisaged that this new economics secretariat will control all economic, administrative, personnel and procurement functions of the Holy See.

Cardinal Pell will report to a new 15-member Council for the Economy made up of eight cardinals and seven lay experts, who will reflect the global church.

The leader of the Church in Sydney will be assisted by a secretary-general, who will handle the daily activities of the office which covers among other agencies in the Holy See, the Vatican Museums and Vatican’s post office

The Secretariat will also include an auditor-general, appointed by the Pope, who will have authority to audit any Vatican office at any time.

The aim of the new body according to the Vatican is to simplify and consolidate the existing management structures, improve oversight, internal controls and transparency and provide more support for the Vatican’s works for the poor.

The Secretariat for the Economy, which combines the financial and administrative functions of the Vatican in a single agency, is intended to streamline the business of the Vatican, provide more transparency and oversight, and ensure that the business of the Holy See is conducted in accordance with acknowledged accounting standards and best practices.

The change appears to weaken the Secretariat of State, which previously had administrative control over the Holy See while also handling diplomatic relations.

That naming of the new entity as a Secretariat suggests that it has parity with the Secretariat of State.

The Pope has asked Cardinal Pell to begin his work as soon as possible, and obtain advice from experts in finance, accounting, and management, to help provide for greater efficiency in administration.

Monday’s statement from Vatican announcing the new structures said that the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, the existing office that handles payroll and purchasing for the Vatican, will continue in that role “as the central bank of the Vatican.”

The announcement did not mention the Vatican bank (the Institute for Religious Works – IOR).

It is understood that Pope Francis has yet to make his final decision on the future of it.

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