Allegations of Cardinal Pell’s lavish spending rejected

An Italian magazine has published alleged details of lavish spending by the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, headed by Cardinal George Pell.

But the secretariat has strongly rejected the claims published in L’Espresso magazine.

Basing its reports on alleged leaked receipts from the secretariat, L’Espresso claimed the cardinal spent $A720,000 in setting up his new department.

It was suggested Cardinal Pell spent A$3600 on garments at the Gamarelli tailors in Rome, as well as A$6650 on kitchen sink fittings.

There were also alleged details of business class travel in planes.

Cardinal Pell also spent more than A$5100 a month to rent an office and apartment at an upmarket address, where he spent nearly A$87,000 on furniture, according to the allegations.

The leaks about Cardinal Pell’s spending were widely suspected to be the work of Vatican prelates unhappy about his incursions on their authority.

This recalled the Vatileaks scandal, in which letters revealing the inner workings of the Holy See were leaked by the butler of Pope Benedict XVI.

Vatileaks apparently sprang from an attempt to settle scores in the Roman Curia.

Some commentators see the latest leaks as an effort to discredit Cardinal Pell as he carries out a papal mandate for financial transparency and reform at the Vatican.

Critics have charged Cardinal Pell with accumulating excessive power and with replicating the very cronyism and secrecy he was meant to dislodge.

A spokesperson for the secretariat strongly rejected the L’Espresso reports, especially a suggestion the Pope Francis had grilled Cardinal Pell about the spending.

The secretariat  spokesman also rejected the idea that the cardinal had made excessive expense claims.

Operational costs, including some initial costs, were below the level budgeted for when the secretariat was set up, the secretariat spokesman said.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi denounced the leaks, stating that “passing confidential documents to the press for polemical ends or to foster conflict is not new, but is always to be strongly condemned, and is illegal”.

He said in a few months the secretariat will publish the financial statements for 2014 and the estimated budgets for 2015 for all of the entities of the Holy See, including the secretariat itself.


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