Four Key Vatican Financial Reforms

Pope Francis recently announced plans to revamp the Vatican’s financial system, consolidating management and increasing transparency. The papacy issued a press release Monday outlining the restructuring process, which included four notable reforms.

1. Creation of a new Council for the Economy composed of 8 cardinals or bishops and 7 “lay experts of different nationalities with strong professional financial experience.”
2. Establishment of a new “Secretariat for the Economy” department headed by a cardinal prefect, which will report to the Council for the Economy.
3. Appointment of an auditor-general with the power “to conduct audits of any agency of the Holy See and Vatican City State at any time.”
4. The Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), the Vatican’s current real estate management arm, will become the Central Bank of the Vatican with “all the obligations and responsibilities of similar institutions around the world.”

The Secretariat of the Economy will preside over “all economic and administrative activities within the Holy See and the Vatican City State,” including human resources, financial planning, preparing an annual budget, and procurement. Pope Francis named Cardinal George Pell, the current Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, to the position of Prefect.

The Council for the Economy will convene regularly to discuss policies and practices to be implemented by the Secretariat. It will also prepare and analyze reports on the Holy See’s economic and administrative undertakings.

The pope’s announcement came after the conclusion of an extensive examination by the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic- Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA). COSEA recommended, among other things, “the adoption of accounting standards and generally accepted financial management and reporting practices as well as enhanced internal controls, transparency and governance.” Pope Francis’ governance advisory council (8 cardinals) and the Holy See’s financial affairs committee (15 cardinals) endorsed COSEA’s recommendations.

“The changes will enable more formal involvement of senior and experienced experts in financial administration, planning and reporting and will ensure better use of resources, improving the support available for various programs, particularly our works with the poor and marginalized,” the Vatican said in the press release.

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