Four months after announcing it had hired the firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an external audit of its finances, the Vatican has suspended the work underway.
“Issues have emerged regarding the meaning and scope of certain clauses of the contract (with PwC) and their methods of implementation,” said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, in a statement on April 26.
Shooting down rumours that had been flying around for a week after news of the audit’s suspension broke, Fr Lombardi insisted the pause had nothing to do with how PwC staff were conducting the audit and in no way indicated internal Vatican opposition to the audit specifically or to financial transparency in general.
“The commitment to adequate economic and financial auditing remains a priority for the Holy See and for Vatican City State,” he said.
A financial audit of every Vatican office “is so complex that it should not be a surprise that there are things needing clarification,” Fr Lombardi told reporters.
The Vatican had announced in early December that the Council for the Economy, “continuing the implementation of new financial management policies and practices in line with international standards,” appointed PwC on the recommendation of its audit committee.
“The suspension of auditing activities is not due to considerations linked to the integrity or quality of the work initiated by PwC, let alone to the intention of one or more entities of the Holy See to block the reforms in progress,” the April statement said.
The decision to suspend the audit and study the contract “was taken after suitable consultations between the competent bodies and experts in the field. It is hoped that this phase of reflection and study may take place in an atmosphere of serenity and collaboration.”