The Vatican had millions of euros “stashed” away in over 200 separate bank accounts. Cardinal George Pell, an Australian cardinal, flew from Sydney to Rome to oversee the Vatican’s messy finances.
Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has been pushing for more financial transparency in the Vatican. Cardinal George Pell aims to make big changes, including the integration of current international financial accounting standards. The Vatican’s economy minister announced his discovery of millions of euros hidden in various Holy See department accounts that had not been documented in the city-state balance sheet. This discovery was made during implementation of new accounting standards.
Cardinal Writes for the Catholic Herald
Cardinal Pell presented an account of the financial reforms currently underway for the Vatican in an article for a new Catholic Herald magazine. He shared suggestions that “unscrupulous figures” took advantage of the Vatican’s financial secrecy, stating that it would no longer be the case. They were implementing new structures and organization to improve their finances with total transparency and accountability.
He wrote, “It is important to point out that the Vatican is not broke. Apart from the pension fund, which needs to be strengthened for the demands on it in 15 or 20 years, the Holy See is paying its way, while possessing substantial assets and investments.” According to a German princess he spoke with once, it was previously expected that the Vatican be “incompetent, extravagant and easy pickings for thieves”, but this view is already changing.
Pell wrote, “Donors expect their gifts to be handled efficiently and honestly, so the best returns are achieved to finance the works of the Church, especially those aimed at preaching the Gospel and helping the poor escape from poverty. A Church for the poor should not be poorly managed.”
As of January 1, each department will have to follow “sound and efficient financial management policies”, preparing financial information and reports to meet international accounting standards. They will be audited by a layman with the ability to audit any department or agency under the Holy See at anytime.