Vatican finance appointee expects integrity

To be credible, the Vatican’s finances need to show integrity, be transparent and have set of values that everyone can operate under, says a recent appointee to the Holy See’s Council for the Economy.

Leslie Ferrar, is one of six women Pope Francis appointed to the board overseeing the Holy See’s finances.

Reforming the Vatican’s management practices has been a priority for the Francis.

Ferrar shares the Pope’s desire to ensure the Holy See’s finances are handled with honesty and transparency.

She says she uses a simple check to decide if something meets the honesty and transparency test.

“If you were talking to a judge in court would you be able to explain what you had done and not be embarrassed?”

In a church setting: “Is what you are doing a sin? If it’s a sin then you shouldn’t be doing it. I think helping people understand what a sin is, rather than it just being okay … is what we need to do,” Ferrar says.

Ferrar hails her appointment as a step toward “an element of diversity” as she is among the first female members of the council.

The fifteen person council is made up of eight cardinals and bishops and seven lay people. Just one of the lay people is male.

“It’s up to me and my fellow lay members to make sure that it’s not lip service and that it really will make a difference,” she says.

“I think women in the Church in general, and women anywhere, want to make sure that any organisation is represented in the management of it by the people that participate in it.”

A lifelong Catholic, Ferrar is no stranger to working with the Holy See. She has advised the Institute for the Works of Religion (ie the Vatican bank) on corporate governance.

“We introduced a huge amount of proper governance, basic processes and procedures.”

“For me that was a huge step forward in getting the bank working in a proper way. Because it is a proper bank, and therefore it should run properly with proper processes. Did we get to absolutely where you should be? No, you never are. But huge steps were made.”

Ferrar says she admires the pope’s work on financial reform, and she points to the progress made in setting up a functioning regulatory system.

“I hope that I will really be able to help the Pope, because he is fundamentally a really good person, and he wants the Holy See to run properly, and we’ve got to try and help that happen.”

She credits her parents, her upbringing and the nuns who taught her with helping her understand the value of integrity.

“You have to tell the truth, you have to act with integrity, even if it costs you. Don’t bother getting up if you don’t do that,” she says.


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