(ANSA) - Vatican City, February 24 - Pope Francis on Monday
continued his drive to reform the scandal-tainted economic
administration of the Vatican, as Church officials announced the
establishment of a secretariat for economic affairs to be guided
in policymaking by a new economic council, the latter made up of
both clerics and laypeople.
Vatican Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the
15-member Council for the Economy, made up of eight cardinals
and bishops and seven laity, "will determine policy and
directives," while the secretariat for economic affairs "will
Seen as his boldest step yet to overhaul the Vatican's
murky finances, the changes were applied by a papal order known
as a 'Motu Proprio' and are to be formally issued in Vatican
daily L'Osservatore Romano.
Lombardi said Cardinal George Pell of Australia will be the
prefect to preside over the secretariat for economic affairs.
The economic council succeeds a previous one made up
exclusively of cardinals, including Pell.
A Church press release stressed that the changes to the
economic structures are intended to "improve resource
utilization, increasing available support for various programs,
in particular, funds for programs that revolve around the poor
and the marginalized".
Among the secretariat's duties will be preparing an annual
It will include an auditor-general appointed by the pope,
who will have the power to "conduct audits of any agency or
institution of the Holy See and the State of Vatican City".
The names of the lay members on the new council were not
released, while the Church said they would be "of various
nationalities with financial expertise and recognized
Lombardi confirmed that the existing Administration of the
Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which manages real estate
and financial holdings, will be "like the central bank of the
Vatican, with all the obligations and responsibilities of
analogous institutions in the world".
The Vatican statement makes no mention of the Vatican bank,
the future of which is currently being reviewed by Francis and
his eight most senior cardinals after decades of allegations of
wrongdoing, including money laundering, which the Vatican has