The Vatican clarified Tuesday that the recent suspension of an external audit of Vatican finances by Pricewaterhouse Cooper is due to problems surrounding specific clauses in their contract, and is not meant to hinder the ongoing reform of the Curia.
“The suspension of auditing activities is not due to considerations linked to the integrity or quality of the work initiated by PwC, let alone the intention of one or more entities of the Holy See to block the reforms in progress,” the Vatican stated in an April 26 communique.
It noted that “issues have emerged regarding the meaning and scope of certain clauses of the contract and their methods of implementation,” and stressed that “such elements will undergo the necessary examination.”
The decision to suspend the audit, the communique read, was made only after “suitable consultations” took place between the competent entities and experts in the field.
Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) initially made headlines when it was hired by the Secretariat for the Economy in December 2015 to audit the Vatican's 120 financial departments' books and to check whether they had been filed according to international accountability standards.
The auditing was suspended by the Secretariat of State April 12 with two letters signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and by his deputy, Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu. The letters reportedly claimed that proper procedures had not been correctly applied.
A spokesperson of the Secretariat for the Economy said Apr. 21 that Cardinal George Pell, the prefect, “was bit surprised at the Archbishop’s letter, but anticipates that, after discussion and clarification on some issues, the work of PwC will resume shortly.”
The Cardinal’s spokesperson also stressed that the current work of the internal auditor, “which covers all the areas, has not been interrupted.”
The suspension of PwC’s audit has thrown gas onto the flames of a burning debate surrounding Pope Francis’ ongoing curial reform — and the said resistance it faces.
Many have speculated that the fact that the Secretariat of State put the brakes on the audit signals an attempt to block the financial overhaul being carried out by the Secretariat for the Economy in a nuanced power struggle.
However, in its communique the Vatican voiced hope that “this phase of reflection and study may take place in an atmosphere of serenity and collaboration.”
“The commitment to adequate economic and financial auditing remains a priority for the Holy See and for Vatican City State.”