By Sergio Mora
The reform of the Vatican’s finances is at a good point. The endeavor for transparency and the fight against corruption has taken very important steps, and the last new appointments of very qualified persons for the direction of financial entities of the Holy See, who come primarily from environments outside the Vatican, demonstrates it, said on Monday, December 9, 2019, in a press conference in the Foreign Press Association in Italy, the known journalists Mimmo Muolo, of the newspaper Avvenire, and Carlo Marroni, of Il Sole 24 Ore, pointing out that there is no war — as some have affirmed — for money, but normal quakes of settlement within the new balance that has been created.
Asked by Zenit in what “kilometer” from one to ten was the reform underway –question already asked, but not answered, by the resigning President of the Financial Information Authority (FIA) Rene Brulhart –, Muollo and Marroni asserted we are in the “last mile, around the eighth or ninth.
Muolo, who wrote the book “I Soldi della Chiesa” (“The Church’s Money”), spoke about the subject, given the news of the acquisition of a property of the Vatican in London, labeled as a “scandal” by some of the media, quoting the Pope’s words on the return flight from his Apostolic Journey to Japan.
“Francis reminded that the Vatican’s judicial system functions — said Muollo — and that the “pot” was uncovered from inside.” He specified that “the investigation that reached the Holy See’s Secretariat of State and Apsa, which administers the Vatican’s real estate, was authorized by the Pope himself.” The Vatican expert of the newspaper of the Italian Episcopal Conference added that, in addition, the Holy Father has described “with clarity the relationship between the Church and the properties,” demystifying those that said that Bergoglio was going to sell everything or that he wanted a Church in poverty. He exorcized the idea of an idealistic Church without means of sustenance, and specified that Peter’s Pence could also be used for investments or the acquisition of properties, as long as they are ethical investments,” sustainable investments, which are useful for pastoral ministry and for charity.”
In regard to the appointment of Carmelo Barbagallo, as the new head of the Financial Information Authority entity, created by Pope Francis, Muolo recalled that he was a functionary of top consultation for the Board of Directors of the Bank of Italy in the matter of banking and financial vigilance and that he was the Italian counterpart in the first transparency agreement signed between Italy and FIA.
“It is a reform that doesn’t give anyone discounts, without failing to evaluate the path initiated by Benedict XVI, which is growing,” he asserted.
“Now the page can be turned definitively. The new appointments to the Board professionals and experts outside the Vatican world, persons of experience brought together that are foreign to eventual lobbies,” he added.
In regard to the possibility of a short-term deficit of the Vatican, he said that there are grotesque errors by those that did the accounts, although it’s clear that efforts are being made to avoid a fiscal deficit, which if not corrected in time could lead to this.
Carlo Marroni, the other rapporteur and author of the book “Account in the Vatican,” stressed the importance of having appointed head of the Vatican Tribunal, Attorney Giuseppe Pignatone, considered number one in Italy in the fight against criminality. He specified that the new Magistrate reopened also “tremendous things” that happened 20 years ago, and that were being forgotten, as those imputed to the former President of IOR, Angelo Caloia.
The Vatican expert of the main Italian newspaper of economy and finance, followed the path of the reform, of the phases that weren’t successful, others with more balanced decisions, but that the true reform was born in 2010, from the investigation of the Attorney’s Office of Rome, of two cheques of 23 million euros, in the time of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertoni and of IOR’s President, Gotti Tedeschi, subsequently “defenestrated” in an incredible way.
Marroni pointed out that with the creation of FIA there was “a daily urban guerrilla” in the Vatican, that Vatileak I came out and a sort of counter-reform of the reform happened, events in 2012 that “probably delayed Benedict XVI’s renunciation.”
The Reform’s Final Step
Morroni said that the last step of the reform of the Vatican’s finances could be the decentralization of the control of the Dicasteries’ funds, so that they don’t depend solely on the Cardinal or Bishop on duty, making them pass through the same entity, for instance, the IOR, in order to make greater transparency possible.
Not forgetting that the Holy See is not a financial entity and, therefore, it’s admissible that it makes investments that signify deficit, as in the case of charity to the needy. In regard to the so-called Vatican band, Muolo pointed out that “today the IOR has a capital of liquid investments of some 5,000 million euros, similar to that of a bank or cooperative credit of a small city,” he said.
He also said that, in an interview with Monsignor Nuncio Galantino, now Director of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), indicted that the Vatican has a real estate patrimony — in addition to those of service and of the Curia — of some 2,400 apartment and 600 premises, of which 60 percent with rent reduced in relation to market prices, allocated to employees of the Holy See.
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