Pope sets up body to oversee scandal-tainted finances
Policymaking council to include laypeople24 February, 19:05
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 budget.
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 professionalism".
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 made 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 denied. APSA has also recently been at the center of scandal. The asset-management agency's former head of analytic accounts, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, has been under house arrest since June for allegedly conspiring to smuggle 20 million euros in cash from Switzerland to Italy for wealthy friends. He also faces separate charges of laundering vast sums of money through accounts at the Vatican Bank, millions of euros he says were from offerings and donations. Scarano denies both counts. The changes to the Vatican's economic administration were the latest in a series of reforms marking Francis' papacy. Over the weekend, the first pope from the developing world named 19 new cardinals, 11 of them from outside Europe. Since his election last March, the Argentine pope has been urging bishops and cardinals to help him shape new policies, ranging from increasing financial transparency to preventing clergy sex abuse. http://popefrancisnewsapp.com/