Vatican Finances, what’s going on? Vatican City State Administration
The question of the purchase of the London apartment also brought to light situations that Cardinal Pietro Parolin described as “opaque”. The Financial Intelligence Authority subsequently cleaned up the operation. Yet the presence of Vatican officials on the boards of the companies involved in the purchase transactions, highlighted by the Catholic news agency, shows that there were at least some questionable and reformed operations.
This was precisely the meaning of the reforms launched by the Financial Intelligence Authority. Seen in this light, Pope Francis‘ decision to drop both the President of the Authority, René Bruelhart, and the director, Tommaso Di Ruzza, who were the architects of the financial reform which earned the Holy See a great international credit, is inexplicable.
Cardinal Pell thought he was going to break this system of small interests (someone would say corruption) with a Vatican asset management structure set up and controlled from outside the old power structure, exited. of the Vatican, and by the influence of certain circles. The audit contract signed with Pricewaterhouse Cooper in 2016 also stemmed from this logic. The agreement was then renegotiated so that the sovereignty of the Holy See was preserved.
The role of APSA
APSA is considered a central bank and is the institutional-government investor of the Vatican City State. He acts exclusively in the name and in the interest of the organs of the Holy See or of the State itself.
Economic reform has gone back and forth a lot.
The reform began in 2014 with the motu proprio Fidelis Dispensator and Prudens, which led to the formation of the Secretariat for the Economy, the Council for the Economy and the Auditor General of the Vatican.
The new statutes of the Vatican Pension Fund of May 29, 2015 stipulated that the chairman of the administration of the Fund would no longer be the chairman of the APSA, but would instead be appointed.
In October 2016, even the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See underwent a small reform which had changed the functions of its advisers, which had become a “supervisory board”.
This reform turned the Vatican system upside down. The reform seemed to treat APSA like a bank, even if it did not.
Until 2016, the APSA had only 23 people (15 clergy and eight lay people). For this reason, it also fell under the jurisdiction of the Vatican Financial Intelligence Authority for a period. The closure of accounts ended in 2016. Consequently, APSA was no longer under the competence of the AIF, as underlined in the third activity report of the Council of Europe Committee MONEYVAL.
It will now be a question of whether the centralized investment fund in question will be a sovereign fund linked to the “central bank” or whether it will be treated as an external fund, as was the initial proposal.
Until now, the work of Bishop Pena Parra, Assistant of the Vatican Secretariat of State, has been to break the old circles of power while maintaining the sovereignty of the Holy See.
A clear example is Bishop Rolandas Makrickas at the head of the administration of the Secretariat of State. Monsignor Makrickas is the first non-Italian to occupy this post and is totally outside any circuit which has so far managed the operations.
It is a question of understanding what will be the underlying philosophy of the reforms.
The reform of the Curia was also born with the idea of reducing the staff, and it is no coincidence that a hiring freeze has been in place since 2014. The Secretariat for the Economy also mentioned the flexibility of the staffing system. compensation and greater opportunities for employees.
However, it would be about changing a whole mentality, which is the most complex job. The success of Pope Francis‘ financial reform will depend on these questions. Apart from the problematic reform of the administrative ranks, new investment funds remain the only option.
So will there only be one investment fund? By whom or by what will it be managed? With what criteria?
These are some of the burning questions.
This is the third in a series of three articles on Vatican finances. The first piece can be found here. the the second piece can be found here.