Statutes of the Vatican Council for Economy, Secretariat for the Economy, and General Auditor went into effect March 1, having been signed Feb. 22 by Msgr. Bryan Wells, assessor of the Secretariat of State. The text of the statutes have not been released by the Holy See Press Office, but can be seen in the Vatican's Courtyard of San Damaso, where they are displayed. The statutes of the Secretariat for the Economy stressed over which Vatican bodies the Secretariat exercises its functions of financial control and oversight, and clarified its relations with the Council of the Economy. The statutes of the Council for the Economy clarify functions and competences of the Council. Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, one of the members of the Council for the Economy, told CNA Feb. 13, “the Council for the Economy will be mostly entrusted with providing financial policies that the Secretariat for Economy will then foster.” The issuance of the statutes has been characterized by a harsh internal discussion, which also brought a leak of some of the Secretariat for the Economy's receipts, targeting Cardinal Pell. The Italian weekly L’Espresso dedicated last week two articles to the issue, headlined “Peccati cardinali” (Cardinal sins) and “I lussi del moralizzatore” (The luxuries of a moralizer). According to L’Espresso, the Secretariat had spent around $560,000 between July last year and January this year, and alleged that Pope Francis had queried the purchase of a $5,000 kitchen unit with Cardinal Pell. The leaks were faulted in an official statement Feb. 27 by Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office. Fr. Lombardi said that “leaking confidential documents to the press for polemical ends or to foster conflict is not new, but is always to be strongly condemned, and is illegal.” The director of the Holy See Press Office stressed that “the fact that complex economic or legal issues are the subject of discussion and diverse points of view should be considered normal. In light of the views expressed, the Pope issues guidelines, and everybody follows them.” “The article makes direct personal attacks that should be considered undignified and petty,” Fr. Lombardi underscored. He then said, “it is untrue that the Secretariat for the Economy is not carrying on its work with continuity and efficacy. In confirmation of this, the Secretariat is expected in the next few months to publish the financial statements for 2014 and the estimated budgets for 2015 for all of the entities of the Holy See, including the Secretariat itself.” The following day, the Secretariat for the Economy rejected accusations that Cardinal Pell has made excessive expense claims, and dismissed as “completely false” the reports that Pope Francis has discussed the expenses with Cardinal Pell. A spokesperson for the Secretariat for the Economy said that “since March 2014 when the Secretariat was initiated, the operational costs of the Secretariat, which include some initial set up costs, were in fact below the budget set when the office was established.” The release also pointed out that “the Secretariat currently has twelve staff working on implementing new financial management routines to improve transparency and accountability. The Secretariat will shortly present to the Council for the Economy the Audited Financial Statements for 2014. This will include a detailed account of all Vatican entities, including the Secretariat for the Economy.”
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