Pope Francis Issues Document That Aims to Overhaul Vatican Financial Investments

Pope Francis celebrates a Pentecost Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on May 31, 2020, albeit without members of the public in attendance. (Remo Casilli/Pool Photo via AP)

VATICAN CITY (RNS) — As conflict, pollution and a pandemic plague the world, a new document issued by Pope Francis on Monday (June 1) – imposing transparency and efficiency measures within Vatican finances – may seem unimportant. But for observers within and outside the walled city-state, the pope’s move is a “game-changer.”

The document completely overhauls the way the Vatican invests its money. As veteran Vatican reporter John Allen put it, “nothing Pope Francis has done prior to Monday has greater potential to truly remake the Vatican’s conventional ways and means.”

In the new document, Pope Francis wrote: “In order to allow for a more efficient handling of resources, I have decided to approve a series of norms aimed at promoting transparency, control and competition in the awarding of contracts for goods and services.”

The main takeaways are the creation of a register of vetted contractors who can bid to supply goods and services to the Holy See and the Vatican. Also, the acquisitions are centralized under the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which oversees the Vatican’s real estate and financial dealings, or the Government of the Vatican City State, the executive branch at the Vatican.

In an interview published by Vatican News, Vincenzo Bonomo, dean of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, said the centralization proposed in the document aims at reducing inefficiencies and waste at a time when the world – and the Vatican – are struggling financially due to the pandemic.

“We will be able to eliminate the plague of wastes, losses, and also prevent corruption in all its forms,” Bonomo said.

Once the document is enacted at the end of the month, Vatican departments, such as the Secretariat, will have to file an explicit request for the investment to APSA and the government.

The document also excludes any contract with operators who have a conflict of interest in the deal or have ever been convicted for corruption, fraud, money laundering, financing terrorism or partaking in human trafficking.

Operators may also be excluded from entering a deal with the Vatican if they have evaded taxes in their country of origin, if represented by a trust fund (which allows for the concealment of the identity of participants) or if they reside in a tax haven. Any attempt to acquire advantages or confidential information, any attempt to provide false information, or commitments of grave violations against the environment are also cause for being excluded from providing goods and services to the Vatican and Holy See.

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Source: Religion News Service