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Pope Francis' decision: money away from the Secretariat of State

The funds go to APSA: "More transparency and controls"
(foto ansa)
(foto Ansa)

An act with which the Pope brings to completion one of the reforms of the Roman Curia that was most dear to him, and invoked by many, the rationalization of the administrative-financial sector of the Holy See. A "path that comes from afar", as stated by Monsignor Nunzio Galantino, president of APSA, in an interview with "Repubblica", but which "certainly the story of the investment in the London property", which also involved Monsignor Becciu , "made it more urgent".

Pope Francis, with "motu proprio", has transferred the management of funds and properties of the Secretariat of State to APSA (Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See).

A decision that therefore strengthens the supervisory role of the Secretariat for the Economy, which will have the functions of Papal Secretariat for economic and financial matters.

"This Motu proprio is not born to correct real or presumed distortions of the Secretariat of State", clarified Monsignor Galantino. "Certainly there are parts that concern the Secretariat of State, but the text has a much more ambitious objective. The faithful have the right to know how the resources entrusted to us are managed. And we have an obligation to do so transparently" .

"Not only in the Church, but everywhere - he continues - it is said that everyone wants reforms but woe to those who seriously put their hand to it. I do not know Cardinal Pell's relations with the Secretariat of State or with other Vatican bodies. I was from all over the world. other part in those times. With this document, the Pope has indicated certain paths and times for implementation. There is no room for making melina ".

THE TEXT - With the motu proprio, dated 26 December, "about some competences in economic and financial matters" Pope Francis sanctions and makes operational from next January 1 the passage to APSA of the management of financial investments and real estate owned by the Secretariat of State, including the Pence of St. Peter. A decision that had been announced by the Pontiff in a letter last August to Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, and finalized by a special "Commission of passage and control" established at the beginning of November.

A significant step is thus taken to bring about a centralized management of investments, which decreases discretion, increases controls and demonstrates how Francesco not only initiates reforms, but accompanies them with precise guidelines.

The Pope, at the beginning of the motu proprio, writes that "a better organization of the administration, controls and supervision of the economic and financial activities of the Holy See" is fundamental in the reform of the Curia "to ensure transparent and efficient management and clear separation of responsibilities and functions ". On the basis of this principle, the "Secretariat of State, which also supports more closely and directly the action of the Supreme Pontiff in his mission and represents an essential point of reference for the activities of the Roman Curia, it is not appropriate for it to perform those functions in economic and financial matters already attributed by competence to other Departments ".

THE ARTICLES - In the first article, the Pope establishes that with effect from 1 January "the ownership of funds and bank accounts, of movable and real estate investments, including investments in companies and investment funds, until now in the name of the Secretariat of State" pass to APSA, “which will take care of their management and administration”. They will be subjected to an ad hoc control by the Secretariat for the Economy (Spe), which "from now on will also perform the function of Papal Secretariat for economic and financial matters".

The Secretariat of State "transfers as soon as possible, no later than February 4, 2021, all its cash and cash equivalents held in current accounts held in its name at the Institute for Works of Religion or in foreign bank accounts, to the Administration of the Assets of the Headquarters Apostolica on a bank account indicated by it ”. If it is not possible or convenient to change ownership of the accounts, the Secretary of State must provide the President of the APSA with a general power of attorney by 4 February, "giving him exclusively all powers of ordinary and extraordinary administration" for "the management bank current accounts; the management of the securities and securities held in the name of the Secretariat of State; the exercise of rights deriving from the interests of the Secretariat of State in companies and investment funds; the management of properties owned directly or indirectly by the Secretariat of State ".

Starting from the financial year 2021, the papal document still reads, "contributions for any reason due or freely devolved to the Holy See by ecclesial bodies of any type", including those of the Governorate and the IOR, "will be paid to a account called the General Budget of the Holy See, managed by the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See according to the current legislation, on the basis of the approved budget ”. The transfers of the sums from the General Budget account to APSA must be authorized by the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy. The payment of the ordinary and extraordinary expenses of the Secretariat of State will be made by APSA according to "the budget of the same Secretariat approved on the basis of current legislation".

In the second article, Francis establishes that APSA constitutes a budget provision called Papal Funds which for greater transparency will form part of the consolidated financial statements of the Holy See, for which separate accounting must be kept, with the opening of specific sub-accounts for the Obolo di San Pietro and the "Discretionary Fund of the Holy Father", as well as each of the funds with particular destination restrictions by the will of the donors. Each of these funds maintains its own purpose. The APSA will inform the Secretariat of State on the situation of the funds. The expenses and disposals from the Holy Father's discretionary fund can only be carried out with "his personal decision". And for payments or non-budgeted investments authorized by the President of APSA, there must always be the countersignature of the Prefect of Spe.

The third article deals with supervision and control, and establishes that all the bodies mentioned in article 1 of the Statute of the Council for the Economy, including those hitherto under the economic and financial control of the Secretariat of State, "are subject to , supervision and direction of the Secretariat for the Economy as defined by its Statute and by the current legislation, with the sole exception of those Bodies for which the Holy Father has expressly provided otherwise ". The budget and final balances "are sent to the Secretariat for the Economy, which submits them to the Council for the Economy for their approval".

Finally, with the fourth article, the Pope establishes that the Administrative Office of the Secretariat of State maintains "only the human resources necessary to carry out the activities relating to its internal administration, the preparation of its budget and final balance and other non-administrative functions carried out so far ". The Office's archive concerning investments and funds is transferred to APSA.

"This new law - reads a press release from the Vatican Press Office - reduces the number of economic managers in the Holy See and concentrates the administration, management and economic and financial decisions in the departments responding to the purpose. The Holy Father wants to proceed with a better organization of the Roman Curia and an even more specialized functioning of the Secretariat of State, which will be able to help him and his successors with greater freedom in matters of greater importance for the good of the Church ".

(Unioneonline / vl)

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