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Pope to set up committee to consider results of Vatican budget audit, says cardinal

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban (Photo: CNS)

Pope Francis will be forming a new committee to investigate the findings and concerns expressed in an external audit of the internal budgets of Vatican offices, South African Cardinal Wilfred Napier of Durban has revealed.

According to the cardinal, the Pope told the Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organisational and Economic Problems of the Holy See that he was thinking of forming “a study group” that would look at issues such as transparency and accountability.

The group would also explore how the Vatican could better manage “what, why and how” its monetary resources are being used by different Vatican offices and entities, said Cardinal Napier.

The cardinal is part of the 15-member council that meets twice a year to review budget forecasts and final budget reports for the preceding year. At the end of their meeting, which ran from July 2-3, they met with Pope Francis who told them “that certain things needed to be put right,” Cardinal Napier said.

“The audit said quite a few things need attention,” the cardinal explained, before adding that “it was quite clear Pope Francis was listening very carefully” during the pre-conclave meetings in March during which the world’s cardinal made strong recommendations for greater reforms.

The recent arrest by Italian authorities of former Vatican employee, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, on charges of fraud and corruption, he said, just “adds grist to the mill” that should prompt Vatican officials “to keep digging” to root out and prevent any financial improprieties.

“The main problem we’re facing is credibility, and all it takes is one bad apple in the basket (to make the whole organisation look suspect),” added Cardinal Napier.

Because the cardinals’ council won’t meet again for another six months, Cardinal Napier said it’s possible the Pope will form an interim group to begin investigations, so that in January when the council meets again, “there would be a clearer picture” about the make-up and mandate of a more permanent group.

Cardinal Napier claimed the biggest problem regarding budgets is the lack of a “unified finance controller and policy” in the Vatican. Some offices work together and some are independent when it comes to budgeting and oversight. The patchwork approach, he said, means “no one knows what’s going on in the big picture”.