Pope Francis delivers his livestreamed Angelus prayer in the library of the apostolic palace in the Vatican on Dec. 27. (Photo: Vatican Media/AFP)
Pope Francis has authorized a new law empowering a papal office to directly manage the Vatican’s finances and vast real estate holdings, taking them over from the Secretariat of State.
A motu proprio focusing on areas of competence in economic and financial matters was published on Dec. 28. It was dated Dec. 26, the Vatican press office announced.The new law authorizes transferring the management of “financial investments and real estate holdings owned by the Secretariat of State (including the administration of Peter’s Pence), to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), effective as of Jan. 1,” the document stated.
The move was first officially announced in a letter to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's secretary of state, on Nov. 5, after the cardinal’s office faced a series of allegations over its financial management.
The new law “strengthens the supervisory role of the Secretariat for the Economy which will function as a papal secretariat over economic and financial matters,” the announcement said.
The text, entitled “A better organization,” also set out new regulations for the oversight of Peter’s Pence, an annual worldwide collection supporting the pope’s mission.
Following allegations of mismanagement, Vatican officials were forced to deny that money collected for Peter’s Pence was used to covering losses on a controversial London property deal overseen by the Secretariat of State.
The law requires the Secretariat of State to “transfer as soon as possible, and no later than Feb. 4, 2021,” all of its liquid assets held in current accounts at the Institute for the Works of Religion, commonly known as the “Vatican bank,” and foreign banks.
It also wanted the Secretariat of State’s administrative office to maintain “exclusively the human resources necessary to carry out the activities related to its internal administration, preparation of its budget and balance sheet and other non-administrative functions performed so far.”
The APSA will create a budgetary provision called “Papal Funds” which will be included in the Holy See’s consolidated financial statements. It will contain a sub-account called “Peter’s Pence.”
Another sub-account called the “Holy Father’s Discretionary Fund” will be operated solely at the pope’s direction.A third sub-account, known as “Entitled Funds,” will be set up for funds that “have a particular restriction of destination by the will of the donors or by the regulatory provision.”
The motu proprio gives the Secretariat for the Economy, led first by Cardinal George Pell and now by Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, supervisory powers over entities previously overseen by the Secretariat of State.Various Vatican entities will transmit their budget and final balance sheets to the Secretariat for the Economy, which will then pass them for approval to the Council for the Economy, founded in 2014, Catholic News Agency reported.