Pope seeks to reassure Moneyval inspectors of Vatican’s financial operations

Pope Francis sought to assure Moneyval inspectors of the Vatican’s financial operation last week that his financial reforms are underway.

His assurances followed a financial scandal at the Holy See that resulted in him dismissing a senior cardinal.

Speaking to Moneyval inspectors from the Council of Europe’s financial monitoring arm, Francis outlined the recent actions he has undertaken to make Vatican finances more transparent.

He pointed to his approval in June of sweeping new rules for procurement and spending meant to cut costs, ensure transparent competition and reduce the risk of corruption in awarding contracts.

“You cannot serve both God and money,” he noted.

Last month, Francis sacked Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, accusing him of embezzlement and nepotism. Becciu has denied the accusations.

Moneyval is making one of its periodic inspections. In these, it checks to ensure the Vatican is complying with international norms to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism.

“The measures that you are evaluating are meant to promote a ‘clean finance’, in which the ‘merchants’ are prevented from speculating in that sacred ‘temple’,” Francis said.

Over the past week, Italian media have published a series of interviews with a woman called Cecilia Marogna who says she received 500,000 euros from Becciu through a company she started in Slovenia. The money’s purpose was to run a “parallel diplomacy” to help missionaries in conflict areas.

Marogna’s work for the Vatican’s Secretariat of State was not previously known.

Becciu’s lawyer, Fabio Viglione, told Reuters news via an email that his client (who was the second in command at the Secretariat until 2018) knew Marogna but that his dealings with her had been “exclusively about institutional matters”.

Viglione did not, however, mention Marogna’s comments about the funds.

Marogna, 39, who like Becciu is from Sardinia, did not reply to a phone message from Reuters.

In his email, Becciu’s lawyer also denied Italian media reports that his client had sent money to Australia to help enemies of Cardinal George Pell.

Pell, who is the former Vatican economy minister, had accused Becciu of blocking Vatican financial reforms and after Becciu was fired, Pell said the pope “is to be thanked and congratulated”.

Moneyval has given the Vatican increasingly positive evaluations since its first inspection eight years ago. However, it has also lamented the slowness of its judicial arm in carrying out investigations and bringing suspects to trial.


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