The resignation comes as a sudden announcement; speculations suggest his work in uncovering Vatican financial secrets may have been behind the move.
Libero Milone, the Vatican’s Auditor General, submitted his resignation to the Holy Father under mysterious circumstances, raising questions from many quarters. The announcements by the Vatican only says that he has resigned from his post and that it wishes him well, adding that the Holy See will soon look for someone else to fill this position.
The position of an auditor was seen necessary to help modernize the Vatican financial systems. The modern Vatican financial system was exemplified by the Institute for Religion Work, known as the “Vatican Bank.” The Vatican Bank was created in 1942 and has been hounded by scandals ever since. From fraud, to financial misappropriation, to even potential money laundering involving the Mafia, the Vatican Bank has had damaged credibility.
Pope Francis discussed cleaning up the Vatican Bank when he was elected in 2013. As part of that promise, Milone was adopted Auditor General, a position created by Pope Francis in 2014 and given power in 2015. As Auditor General, Milone could ask anyone to open their books and accounts for examination.
Early signs were strong that major reforms were being undertaken. Moneyval, The Council of Europe’s financial monitoring body, gave praise to the Vatican in December 2015 for freezing accounts and targeting shady business dealings. Just 3 months before Milone said he had “no regrets” about accepting the position.
However, there were some signs of difficulty for Milone. First, his personal computer was broken into at his office and although accounts were frozen, there were no indictments that were given out.
Although some feel that his resignation may have been routine, the silence and mystery surrounding his sudden resignation raises questions. Some worry that this means a rollback on reforms or the influence of Vatican figures about the independence of the Auditor General position. The steps taken after Milone’s departure will demonstrate the commitment the Holy See has to financial reform.