Secretariat of State has not turned over financial control despite papal mandate

Secretariat of State

Five months after Pope Francis issued new norms governing Vatican finances, the Secretariat of State has not yet given to the Secretariat of the Economy oversight and control over funds — a handover ordered by the pope — several Vatican officials have charged.

Neither the Secretariat of State nor the Vatican press office have responded to those charges.

In December 2020, Pope Francis issued the motu proprio Una migliore organizzazione which was supposed to transfer control and oversight of key financial affairs out of the Secretariat of State after years of financial scandal.

The motu proprio ordered the secretariat to turn over control of its assets and investment portfolio, together worth billions of euros, to APSA, the Holy See’s sovereign wealth fund, and “subject to an ad hoc control by the Secretariat for the Economy, which from now on will also perform the function of Papal Secretariat for economic and financial matters.”

Pope Francis set a February deadline for the transfer of oversight and control on key financial matters to the financial secretariat.

But senior Vatican officials close to APSA, the Secretariat for the Economy, and the Secretariat of State, all told The Pillar that no progress has been made in granting the economic secretariat the control and oversight mandated by the pope.

The Secretariat of State’s budget was also ordered to be submitted to the Secretariat for the Economy, but the office is “frozen out” of oversight and decision-making processes for the Secretariat of State and APSA, curial officials allege.

“There is no cooperation, none,” one senior Vatican official close to the Secretariat for the Economy told The Pillar. “It is worse than in the time of Cardinal Pell.”

“[The department is] simply not included in any of the necessary discussions or decision-making processes,” the official added.

Cardinal George Pell was the first prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, appointed in 2014.

The cardinal was granted a leave of absence in 2017 to return to Australia to fight accusations of sexual abuse — charges on which he was acquitted by the country’s High Court last year — and he did not return to his Vatican duties before his term ended in 2019.

Pell was succeeded by Fr. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, SJ, on Jan. 1, 2020.

The senior official close to the Secretariat for the Economy told The Pillar that Alves has been “intensely frustrated” in his attempts to work with the Secretariat of State and to exercise oversight of the state department’s financial affairs.

“Every effort is being made,” he told The Pillar, “and every effort is met with evasion, obstruction, or just silence.” Continue reading

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