Vatican Gets First Overhaul in 25 Years

Move brings lay experts into the world of the Vatican's finances
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2014 2:20 PM CST
Vatican Gets First Overhaul in 25 Years
In this March 4, 2013, file photo, Australian Cardinal George Pell arrives for a meeting at the Vatican.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

Pope Francis today announced the first major shake-up in 25 years to what the AP terms the Vatican's "outdated and inefficient bureaucracy," in a move designed to bring outside experts into the murky world of Vatican finances. Reuters reports that Francis used a Motu Proprio—a document meaning "by his own initiative"—to make the immediate changes, chief among them the creation of a department to oversee the Vatican's finances. The Secretariat for the Economy will have Australian Cardinal George Pell, 72, at its helm. Reuters describes Pell as a "key proponent of financial transparency"; the AP has him as "a sharp critic of current Vatican governance."

The Secretariat will prepare the Holy See and Vatican City State's annual budgets, and will report to both the pope and a new 15-member economy council comprised of eight cardinals and, notably, seven lay experts "with strong professional financial experience" who will, among other things, "analyze reports on the economic-administrative activities of the Holy See." Per the Vatican, an auditor-general will also be appointed who will have the authority "to conduct audits of any agency of the Holy See and Vatican City State at any time." Per the AP, it's the most significant overhaul of the Vatican's internal organization since Pope John Paul II in 1988 issued the apostolic constitution, Pastor Bonus, the blueprint for the Holy See's various congregations, pontifical councils, and offices. (More Pope Francis stories.)

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