Rome (Associated Press)-Pope Francisco officially divested its Vatican State Secretariat’s financial assets and real estate holdings due to the clumsy management of billions of euros in donations and investments. This has become the subject of corruption investigations.
Francis signed a new law over the weekend, ordering the Secretary of State to transfer all of his property to another Vatican office by February 4. The law also requires that all donations to the Pope-the Peter Penny Collection of the believers, like other donations managed by the State Secretariat, will be held by the Vatican’s Ministry of Finance and managed as a separate fund. These expenses are in the consolidated budget of the Holy See In the description.
These changes are in response to the Vatican’s ever-increasing criminal investigations, which have been accusing its State Secretariat of improper donation and investment management for several years, which caused tens of millions of euros during the financial crisis of the Holy See. Loss.
Francis had ordered the transfer in August and appointed a committee in November to make the change effective. The new law will make the changes permanent and set the implementation date.
Francis said he is making changes to improve the management, control and vigilance of the assets of the Holy See, and to ensure more “transparent and efficient management.”
Vatican prosecutors conducted an 18-month investigation. Francis opposed his own state secretariat, the office’s 350 million euro investment in a luxury residential building in the Chelsea neighborhood of London, and other speculative funds. .
The prosecutor accused several officials of the department of abusing their power to participate in transactions, and several Italian middlemen were suspected of defrauding the Vatican of tens of millions of euros.
The scandal exposed the incompetence of Vatican businessmen in managing funds because they gave up voting shares in the transaction and agreed to pay high fees to Italians known for shady transactions in business circles.
Francis’ decision has dealt an embarrassing blow to the Office of the Holy See, the most powerful State Secretariat, reducing it to almost any other department that must propose a budget and be approved and supervised by others.
The result is basically what was sought by Francis’ first Minister of Economy, Cardinal George Pell, a few years ago, who clashed with the State Secretariat over fiscal reforms and efforts to control off-book funds in the department.
Pell had to abandon these reform efforts in 2017 to face a trial for sexual abuse in his home country, Australia, but he was acquitted and recently told the Associated Press that he believed the wrongdoing he was trying to expose had been exposed.
The Holy See is facing a major cash crunch as its main source of income, the ticket sales of the Vatican Museums, has evaporated this year due to the coronavirus closure. The Holy See reduced its budget deficit from 75 million euros to 11 million euros last year.