Pope Francis has named Cardinal George Pell as the prefect of a new Secretariat for the Economy at the Vatican.
The 72-year-old Australian cardinal will oversee the new body with a council of 15 advisers.
Cardinal Pell has served as Archbishop of Sydney since 2001. He is expected to move permanently to the Vatican as he takes on his new role.
In a press release, the Vatican said the new secretariat represented “a new coordination structure for economic and administrative affairs of the Holy See and the Vatican State”.
It said: “The Secretariat for the Economy will implement policies determined by a new Council for the Economy – a 15-member council comprised of eight cardinals or bishops, reflecting various parts of the world and seven lay experts of different nationalities with strong professional financial experience. The Council will meet on a regular basis and to consider policies and practices and to prepare and analyse reports on the economic-administrative activities of the Holy See.”
Explaining the background to the creation of the new secretariat, it said: “Today’s announcement comes after the recommendations of the rigorous review conducted by the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA) were considered and endorsed by both the Council of 8 Cardinals established to advise the Holy Father on governance and the Committee of 15 Cardinals which oversees the financial affairs of the Holy See.
“COSEA recommended changes to simplify and consolidate existing management structures and improve coordination and oversight across the Holy See and Vatican City State. COSEA also recommended more formal commitment to adopting accounting standards and generally accepted financial management and reporting practices as well as enhanced internal controls, transparency and governance.
“The changes will enable more formal involvement of senior and experienced experts in financial administration, planning and reporting and will ensure better use of resources, improving the support available for various programs, particularly our works with the poor and marginalised.”
In a letter to members of the Archdiocese of Sydney, obtained by the American Catholic journalist Rocco Palmo, Cardinal Pell said he would take up his new role at the end of March.
He wrote: “The Secretariat for the Economy is one of several important initiatives which the Hoiy Father aiso announced today, as part of his commitment to bringing about important reforms to the way the Holy See administers its finances. Much can be done to enhance the Holy See’s capacity to support the good works of the Church, especially those which help the poor and disadvantaged, and I am deeply honoured to be asked to assist Pope Francis in this work. I look forward to the new challenges this work will bring, and as always, I trust in the Lord’s help. No doubt, there will be plenty to do.
“One of the many great gifts the Lord has given me is my time as Archbishop of Sydney. It has been my privilege to work with the people, priests and religious of the archdiocese for ciose to 14 years. The welcome I first received, and the unfaìling help and support that has been provided to me in my work since then, is something for which I am immensely grateful. The loyalty and leadership of our priests has been particularly important, because the work in our parishes lays the foundation for the entire life of any diocese.
“As disciples of the Lord, we all share in the task of strengthening each other in faith and building up the lìfe~giving service that flows from it. This task falls also in a special way to those who have worked with me in the chancery and in the agencies and works of the archdiocese. Many good things, and many more of them, have been done in recent years, and it would not have been
possible without the your hard work, and the generosity and devotion you bring to it. The good spirit and friendship that seems to characterise all the different tasks we are involved with, despite the inevitable stresses and pressures, has been a enormous encouragement and help to me, and I will miss it greatly.
“I take up my new role at the end of March, and I look forward to gathering with you before then to say farewell. Pray for the Holy Father and for all those who will help him in the important work he has begun, and please pray for me, as I pray for each of you and your families.”