Well, I didn’t see that coming!
Cardinal George Pell, Metropolitan Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, has just been appointed to head a new Secretariat established by Pope Francis to coordinate economic and administrative affairs of the Holy See and the Vatican City-State.
The new Secretariat for the Economy was 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. The new administrative structure was recommended by the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy Sea (COSEA), which sought 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. Additionally, the Commission recommended enhanced internal controls, transparency and governance.
The changes will encourage Vatican consultation with senior and experienced experts in financial administration, planning and reporting. Existing resources will be better used, improving the support available for various programs, particularly the Holy See’s works with the poor and marginalized.
According to the statement from the Vatican, today’s changes announced by the Holy Father include:
1. Establishment of a new Secretariat for the Economy which will have authority over all economic and administrative activities within the Holy See and the Vatican City State. The Secretariat will be responsible, among other things, for preparing an annual budget for the Holy See and Vatican City State as well as financial planning and various support functions such as human resources and procurement. The Secretariat will also be required to prepare detailed financial statements of the Holy See and Vatican State.
2. The Secretariat for the Economy will implement policies determined by a new Council for the Economy – a 15 member Council comprised of 8 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 analyze reports on the economic-administrative activities of the Holy See.
3. The Secretariat for the Economy will be headed by a Cardinal Prefect reporting to the Council for the Economy. He will be supported by a Secretary-General in the management of day to day activities.
4. The Holy Father has appointed Cardinal Pell, the current Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, to the role of Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy. Details for Cardinal Pell are attached.
5. New arrangements also include the appointment of an Auditor-General, appointed by the Holy Father who will be empowered to conduct audits of any agency of the Holy See and Vatican City State at any time.
6. The changes will confirm the role of APSA as the Central bank of the Vatican with all the obligations and responsibilities of similar institutions around the world.
7. The AIF will continue to undertake its current and critical role of prudential supervision and regulation of activities within the Holy See and Vatican City State.
The Prefect of the new Secretariat for the Economy has been asked to start work as soon as possible. He will prepare the final statutes and other related matters with the assistance of any necessary advisors and will work with COSEA to complete the implementation of these changes approved by the Holy Father.