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Vatican financial mismanagement stories ‘outdated’

By editor - 06 November, 2015

Fr Frederico LombardiThe director of the Vatican’s Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi, has said many of the new claims of financial mismanagement contained in two books published this week are outdated.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Jesuit pointed out that a number of the claims are based on information dating from before Vatican economic reforms were put in place.

He also highlighted that some of the information in the two books had already been made public.

According to the Vatican spokesman, much of the content contains details from leaked private documents and is therefore the result of illegal activities which will be investigated by the competent Vatican authorities.

Fr Lombardi said it was Pope Francis himself who requested the gathering of this information in order to help him with the process of reforming the financial and administrative running of the Vatican and of the Holy See.

In particular, he noted that the COSEA commission, from whose archives much of the information is drawn, was established by the Pope on 18 July 2013 and then dissolved once it had completed its mandate.

Fr Lombardi also noted that there are many different interpretations of the facts and figures that have been leaked; for example he noted that the pension fund has been described as both a worrying black ‘hole’ and a reassuring situation.

Regarding the use of the large amount of property belonging to the Vatican, Fr Lombardi noted that the income is used for the long-term management of the huge network of services connected to the Holy See and other institutions, both in Rome and in other parts of the world.

Details regarding the origin and history of these properties are readily available; for example, in the financial accords between Italy and the Holy See in the context of the Lateran pacts.

Responding to questions about St Peter’s Pence, Fr Lombardi noted that the money given by the faithful is used for a variety of different causes, at the Pope’s discretion.

While charity and assistance to the poor are two of the main destinations of that money, they may also include funding for the Roman Curia, initiatives outside of the Diocese of Rome, communicating the Papal Magisterium to different parts of the globe and supporting the 180 diplomatic missions of the Holy See which support the local churches.

Fr Lombardi stressed that it is important to distinguish between the bulk of the leaked information, which refers to well-documented, correctly managed and perfectly justified activities (including the payment of taxes), and other details which reveal shortcomings to be remedied or clarified, or even illegal dealings to be eliminated.

He also underlined the complexity of the work of reorganising the economic and financial management pursued by Pope Francis.

The Pope and his closest collaborators will continue on the road towards correct and transparent administration of those worldly goods which serve their spiritual counterparts.

The Vatican statement follows the arrest of a member of Opus Dei, Mgr Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, and Italian lay woman, Dr Francesca Chaouqui, by Vatican authorities at the weekend in connection with the “unauthorised sharing of confidential documents”.

Mgr Vallejo Balda and Dr Chaouqui previously worked as secretary and member of the Commission for Reference on the Organisation of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA).

Following the arrest, the Vatican highlighted that divulging confidential documents is a crime under the criminal code of the Vatican City State.

The arrests were made ahead of the publication of two new books, one by Gianluigi Nuzzi who was central to publishing some of the most serious Vatileaks revelations.

The second book, ‘Avarice’ by Emiliano Fittipaldi is also believed to contain damaging new information about the Vatican’s economic affairs.

In a statement on Monday, the Vatican press office said, “As for the books announced for the next few days it should be said clearly once again on this occasion as in the past, that they are the result of a serious betrayal of the trust placed in certain individuals by the Pope, and, as far as the authors are concerned, of an operation to draw advantage from a gravely unlawful act…”

“Publications of this kind do not contribute in any way to the establishment of clarity and truth, but rather to the creation of confusion and partial and tendentious interpretations. We must absolutely avoid the mistake of thinking that this is a way to help the mission of the Pope.”

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