Cardinal questions revelation of Vatican asset figures

The cardinal who heads the Vatican’s economic oversight body has questioned the releasing of Vatican asset figures to the media by Cardinal George Pell.

Earlier this month, Cardinal Pell, who is prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, told media the Vatican had US$1.5 billion in assets that had not been previously accounted for.

German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who is president of the Vatican’s Council of the Economy, expressed doubts as the wisdom of the revelation.

“Such figures are not very helpful and I personally am always reticent about quoting figures,” Cardinal Marx told the German Catholic News Agency.

“Assets figures only make sense if I connect them to the obligations I have,” he said.

The secretariat reports to the economic council, which is headed by Cardinal Marx.

The council has overarching responsibility for all the financial activity of the Holy See.

But Cardinal Marx admitted: “Up to now it was not usual and to a certain extent impossible to conduct a real overall budget which was up to international standards.”

“That must change,” he added.

Progress on reforms aimed at financial transparency at the Vatican was reported to cardinals who met earlier this month.

There was heated debate over proposed statutes for the council and the secretariat.

Some fear that too much power would be given to a “super-dicastery” headed by Cardinal Pell.

According to Vatican Insider, what is proposed contradicts the principal of real separation of oversight and operations as insisted on by the president of the Vatican Bank.

Concerns about the proposed statutes, raised by the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, were dismissed by Cardinal Pell,

He said an alternative set of statutes proposed by this body would have hamstrung reform efforts.

Vatican Insider pointed out that the pontifical council was asked to do this work by Pope Francis.

Before the meeting of cardinals, South African Cardinal Wilfred Fox Napier said the pontifical council went beyond its remit.

The Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples has been cited as one large Vatican agency that has been notably resistant to financial reforms.


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