Pope Francis has officially deprived the Vatican State Department of financial assets and real estate holdings, which have messed up hundreds of millions of euros in donations and investments that are now subject to corruption investigations.
During the weekend, Francis signed a new law ordering the State Secretariat to transfer all possessions to another Vatican office by February 4th, which also requires all donations from the Pope. Other donations administered by the State Secretariat, administered by the Vatican Treasury and as a separate fund included in the Vatican’s consolidated budget.
These changes are a response to the Vatican’s criminal investigations against years of accusations against the administration of donations and investments by the Vatican State State, which resulted in losses of tens of millions of euros during the Holy See’s financial crisis.
Francis already ordered the transfer in August and appointed a committee to apply the changes in November. The new law applies the changes permanently and establishes an execution date.
Francis said he is making changes to improve administration, control and boundaries of the Vatican’s assets and to ensure a more “transparent and efficient management”.
Francis opposed his secretary of state during an 18-month investigation by Vatican prosecutors who invested 350 million euros in a luxury residential building near Chelsea, London.
Prosecutors have criticized several officials in the department who abused their authority for being involved in the transaction, and several Italian brokers claiming to have escaped fees of tens of millions of euros from the Vatican.
These scandals revealed the inability of the Vatican monks to manage money. Because they signed the voting share of the deal and agreed to pay huge fees to Italians known in the business world for their shady deal.
Francis’ decision was a baffling blow to the state secretariat as the most powerful papal secretariat, which was essentially reduced to other departments that proposed budgets and had to be approved and monitored by others.
The result is, essentially, a few years ago when Francis’ first economic minister, Cardinal George Pell, clashed with the State Department over fiscal reforms and efforts to prevent the department’s control of book funds.
Pell said he had to abandon his reform efforts in 2017 to be tried for sexual abuse in his home country, Australia, but he was found acquitted and has recently proved to the Associated Press that the fault he was trying to uncover was being exposed.
The Holy See is facing a major cash crunch as a major source of revenue for ticket sales at the Vatican Museums this year due to the coronavirus closure. The Holy See last year narrowed its budget deficit from 75 million euros to 11 million euros.