Australian Cardinal George Pell, as prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, will be key to the success of Francis’ reforming papacy. CNS photo/Kerry Myers

Economic reform will be key to Vatican change under Francis

  • May 15, 2014

VATICAN CITY - Canonization week in Rome served as something of an informal annual general meeting. The universal Church was catching up with herself after a momentous year since Conclave 2013, and everyone was talking about our new Holy Father. Over these weeks, I hope to share with readers some of what I heard about Francis’ reforming papacy from those in Rome from around the world.

Last week I wrote about how Francis’ decisiveness led to his most substantive reform to date, the creation of the Secretariat for the Economy, and the appointment of its first prefect, Cardinal George Pell from Australia, without the usual channels of authority being consulted. That decision seems to have met with universal approval from those visiting Rome; in Rome there is some nervousness about how the new order will be implemented. There is no doubt though that a new order is on its way.

The Holy See has various agencies that deal with money, property and employment. There is the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, which administers the indemnity paid to the Holy See by the Republic of Italy for the confiscation of the papal states, but also handles some matters of employment and administration. Then there is the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See. There is the Governorate of the Vatican City State, which is like city hall and runs things like the Vatican Museums. There is the Labour Office, and the Financial Intelligence Authority, which is akin to a regulator which liaises with international financial authorities. The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples has a portfolio of real estate and financial investments used for the support of the missions. All of this, and the Institute for the Works of Religion — the Vatican Bank — too, which serves as a safe depository for religious orders and dioceses the world over.

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