Pope Francis welcomes outside world to scrutinize Vatican's finances
Long considered dark and clandestine, pope happily invites experts to examine church's finances
In a further bid to make the internal workings of the Catholic Church more accessible to the outside world, Pope Francis has invited experts from around the world to examine the Vatican's finances. The pope reiterated that the church must use its wealth to help the poor.
Under the new plan, a new Secretariat for the Economy will report directly to the pope and will be headed by 72-year-old Australian Cardinal George Pell, who is currently the Archbishop of Sydney and a key proponent of financial transparency in a committee that advised the pope.
The document says the Church must see its possessions and financial assets in the "light of its mission to evangelize, with particular concern for the most needy."
See how you can light up the darkness -- by going here --
Under the new plan, a new Secretariat for the Economy will report directly to the pope and will be headed by 72-year-old Australian Cardinal George Pell, who is currently the Archbishop of Sydney and a key proponent of financial transparency in a committee that advised the pope. Pell will move shortly to Rome, representatives say.
The auditor-general will have wide oversight powers "to conduct audits of any agency of the Holy See and Vatican City State at any time," a statement read.
Effectively a new ministry, the Secretariat will be headed by Pell and guided in policy making by a new 15-member Council for the Economy. Made up of eight prelates and seven lay financial experts, the council will have "strong professional financial experience" from around the world, according to the statement.
The Motu Proprio's title is "Faithful and Prudent Administrator." A Vatican statement said the changes "will enable more formal involvement of senior and experienced experts in financial administration, planning and reporting and will ensure better use of resources, improving the support available for various program, particularly our works with the poor and marginalized."
Francis decreed that the changes have "immediate, full and stable effect," abrogating any existing rules not compatible with them.
The Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, or APSA, which manages financial holdings and real estate, will assume the role of the Vatican's central bank and have "all the obligations and responsibilities of similar institutions around the world," the statement said.
A Vatican spokesman said that the role and structure of the separate Vatican bank, formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion, or IOR, will not change for the time being.
Francis has not ruled out closing the bank, which primarily handles funds for religious orders and Vatican employees.
The IOR and APSA have previously been at the center of scandals. Italian magistrates are investigating the IOR on allegations of money laundering.
Pope Francis calls for your 'prayer and action'...
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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