Vatican suspends external audit

Vatican suspends external audit

[Further effort to discredit Cardinal Pell?]
Catholic World News – April 20, 2016

A thorough audit of all Vatican offices has been suspended, in a major blow to plans for reform of Vatican financial affairs.

The Secretariat of State has informed Vatican offices that the outside audit, being conducted by the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers, was being discontinued. The audit was begun in December 2015, after Cardinal George Pell, the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, reported that a preliminary inqury into Vatican financial affairs had uncovered the serious undervaluation of assets, as well as unsupervised spending that created opportunities for mismanagement and corruption.

Cardinal Pell had pressed energetically for the imposition of regular audits and uniform financial controls, to bring accountability to Vatican financial affairs. His efforts have faced resistance from other offices of the Roman Curia, and the suspension of the PricewaterhouseCoopers audit appears to reflect a setback for the Australian cardinal.

The Italian newspaper Italia Oggi, which broke the news that the audit was being suspended also reported that Antonino D’Anna, who had been considered a candidate to become the new president of the Institute for Religious Works, had removed his name from consideration because of what he described as the “complex situation” at the Vatican bank. Italia Oggi interpreted D’Anna’s statement as a further indication that Cardinal Pell’s position has been weakened, and the financial reforms that he has sought to institute may be in jeopardy.

Cardinal Pell was appointed by Pope Francis in 2014 to head the newly formed Secretariat for the Economy, and given a broad mandate to bring order to Vatican financial affairs. He was appointed to serve a five-year term in that office.

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5 comments on “Vatican suspends external audit

  1. It figures. This whole pontificate is nothing but hype.

  2. Reminds me of the time Newt Gingrich & Co. brought in a major int’l CPA firm to audit the Congressional books after the GOP re-took the House in 1994, after a four decades-long hiatus.

    Newt & Co. was informed by the auditors, after a lot of digging and searching, that they could not properly complete their work and provide a formal opinion since the Dems had stolen and hidden so much money since the days of FDR that is was literally impossible to even find, let alone follow, the money trail.

    Paul Shanklin (I think it was he) put together one of the greatest classic satires ever heard on EIB. I have not listened to Rush in almost seven years, but he provided many useful moments, back in the day. Anyway, the scene in which a Democrat Congressman drops by the Congressional Post Office with an enormous campaign contribution check and cashes it while purchasing ONE stamp pretty much explains why Cd. Pell & Co. ran into a similar roadblock in Sunny Nuovo Roma.

  3. The drive for Vatican reform has stalled?

    By Phil Lawler | Apr 21, 2016

    The news that the Vatican has suspended an external audit might appear to be only a minor administrative matter, interesting only to accountants. But as an indicator of the trends in Rome today, it is as significant of Amoris Laetitia. It is, in my view (and I am by no means a financial analyst!), a sign of crisis in this pontificate.

    Pope Francis was elected by the College of Cardinals to bring reform to the Vatican, after the “Vatileaks” scandal and revelations of financial corruption had marred the pontificate of Benedict XVI. Three years later, the “Vatileaks II” trial is providing new drama fit for the tabloids, and the most critical step in a sweeping plan for financial reform has been put on hold. Has anything really changed?

    There has been no explanation for the decision to suspend the audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which was to have been the first external audit ever conducted of Vatican financial affairs. For that matter there has not been any official announcement of the decision, which only came to light when the National Catholic Register reported on a memorandum issued to offices of the Roman Curia by the Secretariat of State. Even Cardinal George Pell, who is (at least theoretically) the Vatican’s top official for financial matters, told the Register that he was “a bit surprised” by the decision.

    This is the way the Vatican has worked for ages—and, apparently, the way it still works. A vitally important decision is made quietly: without public announcement, without explanation, without accountability. The Secretariat of State, which supervises the work of all other agencies, countermands an order from other Vatican offices, even if those offices have (on paper) the proper authority in their own particular spheres.

    Since we do not know why the audit was stopped, we cannot know when—if ever—it will be resumed. Cardinal Pell says that he expects it to “resume shortly.” But since the suspension caught him by surprise, he cannot be too confident in that prediction; he may have been expressing a wish rather than a certainty.

    What we do know is that the suspension of the audit is a setback for Cardinal Pell, who had pushed hard for tight financial controls, encountering steady resistance all along the way from entrenched officials of the Roman Curia, and especially the Secretariat of State. The rumor mill in Rome suggests that other Vatican officials saw the Australian cardinal’s plans as too ambitious, too intrusive on the traditional prerogatives of the Curia.

    For generations, the top officials of the Curia have answered to no one but the Pope– and even the Sovereign Pontiff, respecting their dignity as Princes of the Church, would rarely ask detailed questions about how they handled their work. Each Vatican office operated by its own rules. So when Cardinal Pell finally conducted a systemic review of Vatican finances, he uncovered a rat’s nest of unsupervised fundraising and spending, separate accounts, no-bid contracts, undervalued properties, and sweetheart deals: the sort of routine corruption that saps the strength of an institution. He prescribed strong medicine, and not surprisingly, some of the patients resisted the treatment.

    So now the treatment has been suspended. The old guard has won at least a partial victory; the impetus for Vatican reform has been stalled.

    Three years into his pontificate, what reforms has Pope Francis achieved?

    Soon after his election the Pope created the Council of Cardinals, to advise him on an overhaul of the Roman Curia. That Council is still meeting regularly, with future meetings scheduled through the end of this year. But the council’s major recommendations—a streamlining of Vatican communications and the creation of two new Vatican congregations—are steps that were predicted by informed observers even before the consultations began. More to the point, they are steps that have not yet been completed. In each case, the transition has barely begun and the future of the reform is by no means clear. Only one new office is up and running: the Secretariat for the Economy. Now the seriousness of that reform is facing a crucial test.

    On another important front—the handling of sex-abuse complaints—the public statements of Pope Francis, especially in the early days of his pontificate, raised hopes for a restoration of public trust. The Pontiff promised to handle complaints decisively; he announced the creation of a new tribunal to hold bishops accountable for their failure to discipline predatory priests. But the Pope’s track record has not yet fulfilled his promises. He has promoted a Chilean bishop who was accused of ignoring abuse, and given a special role in the Synod to a Belgian cardinal who barely escaped criminal charges for the same sort of negligence. That promised tribunal has not yet materialized.

    As this week began, John Allen of Crux wrote an appreciation of Pope Benedict XVI as a reformer, noting that it was the former Pope who launched the most important reform efforts at the Vatican. Just one day later, an editorial in the Washington Post, expressed impatience with the Pope’s handling of the sex-abuse scandal. Thus on successive days, two American media outlets questioned the image of Pope Francis as a reformer.

    And both of those commentaries appeared before the announcement that the Vatican had suspended the audit. The question that arises now is not whether Pope Francis has brought reform to the Vatican; he has not. The question is whether this pontificate has stalled the reforms that were already underway.

  4. Graft, corruption, leaks, babes, sexual tension, and now this?

    Don’t cry for me, Jorge!

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