Pope formally strips the Vatican Secretariat of the state of the assets

Rome – Pope Francis has formally stripped the Vatican State Secretariat of its financial assets and real estate interests after the fraudulent management of hundreds of millions of euros in donations and investments that are now the subject of a corruption investigation.

Francis signed a new law on the weekend of December 26 and 27 that ordered the country’s secretariat to complete the transfer of all its possessions to another Vatican office by February 4. collections of faithful as well as other donations managed by the Secretariat of State – to be held and managed by the Vatican’s Treasury Office as separate funds accounted for in the consolidated budget of the Holy See.

The changes are in response to a criminal investigation in the Vatican after years of allegations of mismanagement of donations and investments by the Vatican State Secretariat, which resulted in losses of tens of millions of euros during a financial crisis for the Holy See.

Francis had already ordered the transfer in August and followed up in November by appointing a commission to implement the changes. The new law makes the changes permanent and sets a fixed date for their implementation.

Francis said he is making the changes to improve administration, control and vigilance over the Holy See’s assets and ensure a more “transparent and efficient management.”

Francis has acted against his own state secretariat amid an 18-month investigation by Vatican prosecutors into the € 350 million investment in the office in a luxury residential building in the London Chelsea area and other speculative funds.

Prosecutors have accused several officials in the department of abusing their authority for their involvement in the deal, as well as several Italian mediators who allegedly fled tens of millions of euros to the Vatican.

The scandal exposed the incompetence of Vatican mechanics in managing money because they signed voting rights in the agreement and agreed to pay exorbitant fees to Italians known in business circles for their shady trade.

Francis’ decision was an embarrassment to the secretariat of the state’s position as the most powerful office of the Holy See, which reduced it to essentially any other department that had to propose a budget and have it approved and monitored by others.

The outcome is essentially what Cardinal George Pell, Francis’ prime minister, sought after, who clashed with the state secretariat over his financial reforms and attempts to exercise control over the department’s foreign funds.

Pell had to abandon the reform efforts in 2017 to be tried for sexual abuse in his native Australia, but he was acquitted and recently told The Associated Press he finds it fair that the offense he is trying to expose is exposed.

The Holy See is facing a major cash crisis as the main source of revenue, the ticket sales of the Vatican Museums, has evaporated this year due to the closure of the coronavirus. The Holy See reduced its budget deficit from 75 million euros to 11 million euros last year.