After property scandal, Pope tightens money controls


FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis leads Angelus prayer inside a library, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the Vatican, December 27, 2020. Picture taken December 27, 2020. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis has issued a new decree making charity funds more transparent and tightening controls on Vatican finances after a scandal over a luxury London property deal.

The main target is the Secretariat of State, the most important part of the Vatican administration, which must relinquish management of its funds, investments and real estate and submit to supervision by two other economic offices.

Published on Monday and signed by the pope on Dec. 26, the decree takes effect over two months from Jan. 1.

In 2014, the Secretariat invested about 200 million euros ($244 million) as a partner in a deal to buy a luxury building in London. As the deal became onerous, it paid tens of millions of fees to middlemen in attempts to change the terms.

Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican's former treasurer, told Reuters earlier this month there had been "enormous losses". [L8N2IO3S8]. In September, the pope fired Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a former top Secretariat official. [L5N2GL5TQ]

An investigation into the London deal led to the suspension last year of five Vatican employees, four from the Secretariat. The Vatican has also accused the middlemen of extortion.

'PETER'S PENCE'

The Secretariat of State's assets are being transferred to a department called Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA) and will be overseen by the Secretariat for the Economy.

The Secretariat of State also loses control of "Peter's Pence", a fund which the faithful can contribute to and is aimed at helping the pope run the Church and finance his charities.

In past years, the Vatican has dipped into Peter's Pence to cover budget deficits. The fund's reputation has suffered from reports it may have been used for questionable investments, such as the London building.

The decree sets up three new accounts - one for Peter's Pence, another for a "Papal Discretionary Fund", and a third to hold funds which donors want used for a specific purpose. To guarantee transparency, they will become part of the Vatican's budget, the pope said in the decree.

A Vatican statement said the changes to Peter's Pence were meant to reassure donors that contributions were properly used.

($1 = 0.8186 euros)

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
   

Next In World

Blasts on buses in western Kabul kill at least 7 - police
UK's queen joined by cousin for 'Trooping the Colour' event
Biden to hold solo press conference after Putin meeting - White House official
Myanmar junta accuses ethnic armies over bombings
Nigerian police fire tear gas to break up protests over rising insecurity
No movement: UK, EU show little sign of defusing post-Brexit row
Cambodia begins evicting floating homes amid protests
Indian village prays to 'goddess corona' to rid them of the virus
Italian police arrest man allegedly involved in Vietnamese truck deaths
Iran's ex-parliament speaker demands explanation for vote disqualification

Stories You'll Enjoy


Vouchers