Thursday, July 10, 2014
JULY 10 - Not much news today from the Vatican just the brief announcement you see below. For that reason, Im leaving the column I wrote yesterday in case you need to study it more in depth..or did not have the time at one sitting to read it all.

In the event you do not follow Pope Francis on Twitter @pontifex, here are two wonderful recent tweets: JULY 10: Do not be afraid to cast yourselves into the arms of God; whatever he asks of you, he will repay a hundredfold. JULY 8: With God, nothing is lost; but without him, everything is lost.


The Vatican announced today a probable trip to Caserta by the Holy Father on Saturday, July 26: It seems that last month, during the course of a private visit to the Vatican of a group of Evangelical pastors, Pope Francis told pastor Giovanni Traettino, a friend from his time in Buenos Aires, that he would like to visit him in his church of the Reconciliation in Caserta. The visit will be a strictly private, simple and quick and will most likely take place on Saturday morning, July 26.


One of the more fascinating press conferences I have ever been to in the Holy See Press Office (and there have been many in the 32 years I have covered or worked for the Vatican) was held this morning to announce a tsunami of changes in Vatican economic and financial structures, including a new president at IOR, the Vatican bank, the restructuring of APSA (see below) and plans to review (and probably re-organize) Vatican media offices and the pension office.

It was SRO at the conference, with an army of photographer and TV cameras, in addition to the myriad members of print media and other invited guests. CTV, the Vatican television center, carried the conference live. The focus of the press conference was New Economic Framework for the Holy See.

English was the language of the morning as each of the panel members, either by birth or acquisition, spoke it fluently and all could also answer questions, if necessary in Italian and French. The participants included Cardinal George Pell (Australia), prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, Joseph F. X. Zahra (Malta), deputy coordinator and member of the Council for the Economy, Jean-Baptiste de Franssu (France), incoming president of IOR and Ernst von Freyberg (Germany), outgoing IOR president.

Joseph F.X.Zahra:

The next days and months might we say, next two years will be a fascinating period of change, re-organization, and mergers for the Vatican, for the Holy See, for employees of the Roman Curia and Holy See offices.

After the 90-minute presentation and Q&A session, I told Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, John McCarthy, that one of the medias hardest tasks today would be trying to find a headline for our stories as there was the main story as well as a handful of sub-stories.

He suggested Vatican Moves to Role Model in Banking and that is what I tweeted!

In fact, that was one of the more important sub-stories today: the drastic changes and improvements made at IOR in the last 18 months that have led, as outgoing president von Freyberg said, to greater transparency, to working with international banking organizations in an open manner, to bringing the Vatican bank not only up to current international standards but to make it a leader in the sector.

Von Freyberg is to Cardinal Pells left:

Incoming president de Franssu said, in this regard, that, in making changes at the bank the Vatican is using a step-by-by step approach. He said that the new VAM office (Vatican Asset Management) will be run and administered on Catholic ethical investment principles. This will drive how we manage assets.

Following are summaries of VIS reports on todays press conference and the new motu proprio by Pope Francis, as well as highlights (as bullet points) from the notes I took at the conference. Given the importance of the matters discussed and the huge changes underway or about to be made in the Vatican, I have chosen to give you more, rather than less, news today. It will be interesting in coming months and years to see how the changes might trickle down - or out to the Universal Church and eventually dioceses, parishes, etc.

I have to say that, as a former Vatican employee and current pensionata, as I listened to the speakers today and read the Vatican summary of the new financial structures, I spent much of the morning thinking about friends and colleagues in the Vatican, many of whom are surely wondering now, where will I be next year? or will my office or position exist in a year?


The Vatican this morning held a press conference to present the New Economic Framework for the Holy See. Cardinal George Pell, former archbishop of Sydney, Australia, and now the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, presided at the conference and announced new and important initiatives for improving the economic management and administration of the Holy See and Vatican City State.

The changes, set in motion by the new Secretariat for the Economy, are the fruit of a detailed analysis of the conclusions and recommendations of the Pontifical Council for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA), and are considered essential in facing risks and weaknesses and, at the same time, in creating a new platform for improving economic management. All the changes were approved in the July 5 meeting of the Council for the Economy and the July 1-4 meeting of the Council of Cardinals.

Major changes relate to APSA (the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See), the Pension Fund, the Vatican media and the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR).

Cardinal Pell expressed his satisfaction with the fact that the Holy Father has approved these important initiatives, and ht thanked Pope Francis for his unwavering support and contributions.

There are many challenges to face and much work to be done, he observed. COSEA has recommended that various issues be faced as a matter of urgency, such as the transfer of the Ordinary Section of APSA, the Pension Fund, the media and IOR. The Holy Father has clearly stated that these changes must be made rapidly.

The Cardinal went on to announce the creation of a small Project Management Office (PMO), directed by Danny Casey, former business manager of the archdiocese of Sydney, to implement and present some of the proposed changes, beginning with the transfer of the Ordinary Section of the APSA to the Secretariat for the Economy. The PMO will report directly to the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

In September 2014, the Secretariat for the Economy will begin to prepare the budget for the year 2015. The aim is for all dicasteries and administrations to draw up a budget to which they will adhere throughout the year. Spending (within the agreed structure) will be the responsibility of each dicastery and administration. It will then be compared with the budget in progress during 2015, and the dicastery in question will be accountable for any eventual excess spending.

We are keen to pursue this work in the coming months, Cardinal Pell stated.

The following are extracts from the proposals for change in the various sectors, starting with the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See:


The Ordinary Section of APSA is transferred to the Secretariat for the Economy. This is an important step to enable the Secretariat for the Economy to exercise its responsibilities of economic control and vigilance over the agencies of the Holy See, including policies and procedures concerning purchasing and the suitable allocation of human resources as defined in the Motu Proprio Fidelis Dispensator et Prudens.

The remaining staff of APSA will begin to focus exclusively on its role as a Treasury for the Holy See and the Vatican City State. A key early task will be to continue the work of establishing close relationships with all major central banks as recommended by MoneyVal, which will continue to ensure the liquidity and financial stability of the Holy See. All sovereign institutions will have an account at APSA that will serve as a Treasury for them.


With regard to the Pension Fund, the Council for the Economy has appointed a technical committee to study its current situation and to make proposals to the Council for the Economy before the end of the year. The Council recognized and acknowledged that the pensions being paid today and for the next generation are safe but the fund needs to ensure there are sufficient funds for future generations in a changing environment. Many Western countries have faced challenges in their pension system over the last years. It is anticipated that new statutes would be prepared by the end of 2014 to adapt the Pension Fund's organization to the new economic-administrative structure of the Holy See.

The technical committee will be headed by the Council's Prelate Secretary Mons. Brian Ferme. Four lay experts will contribute their professional experience and expertise: Bernhard Kotanko, Austria; Andrea Lesca, Italy; Antoine de Salins, France, and Professor Nino Savelli, Italy. In addition, there will be representatives from of the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat of State and the Pension Fund.


Another area under consideration is the Vatican communications structure, for which a committee has been appointed to propose reforms for the Vatican media. The committee will publish a report and a reform plan within the next twelve months after considering the COSEA report. The objectives are to adapt the Holy See media to changing media consumption trends, enhance coordination and achieve progressively and appreciably substantial financial savings. Building on the recent positive experiences with initiatives such as the Pope App and the Holy Father's Twitter Account, digital channels will be strengthened to ensure the Holy Father's messages reach more of the faithful around the world, especially young people.

The members of the committee come from Vatican staff and from senior international experts. They have been chosen for their expertise in communications while reflecting the universality of the Catholic Church. The international experts are Lord Christopher Patten, UK, who will act as president of the committee; Gregory Erlandson, USA; Daniela Frank, Germany; Fr. Eric Salobir OP, France; Leticia Soberon, Spain and Mexico; and George Yeo, Singapore. The Vatican staff includes Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, who will act as secretary of the committee; Giacomo Ghisani, Vatican Radio; Msgr. Carlo Maria Polvani, Secretariat of State; Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz, Vatican Internet Service, and Professor Giovanni Maria Vian, editor-in-chief of L'Osservatore Romano.


With regard to the Institute for the Works of Religion, following the confirmation of the mission of the IOR by the Holy Father on 7 April 2014 and under the guidance of the Secretariat for the Economy and its Council, IOR has announced plans for the next stage of development.

The Holy Father's Council of Cardinals (C9), the Secretariat for the Economy, the Supervisory Commission of Cardinals and the current IOR Board of Superintendence have jointly agreed that this plan shall be carried out by a new executive team led by Jean-Baptiste de Franssu. He will assume office as the new president of the IOR on July 9, 2014. Ernst von Freyberg has agreed to serve a period of transition to ensure an orderly hand-over. Jean-Baptiste de Franssu stated, It is an honor to have been called to implement the changes that are now required to further transform the IOR into a dedicated service provider for the Church.

Over the next three years, the IOR Statutes will be revised and its operations redesigned, following a set of three strategic priorities: strengthening the business foundation for the IOR; gradually shifting assets under management to a newly created, central Vatican Asset Management (VAM), in order to overcome duplication of efforts in this field among Vatican institutions; and focusing IOR on financial advice and payment services for clergy, congregations, dioceses and lay Vatican employees.

IOR is in a phase of peaceful transition. The first stage of the reforms, led by Ernst von Freyberg, has been completed. Excellent progress has been made through adherence to international standards and the resultant transparency is evident in the second annual report which has been fully audited by Deloitte. A new anti-money-laundering (AML) framework has been put in place and every effort continues to be made to comply with this framework. The internal compliance department, supported by Promontory, has closely reviewed 18,000 clients. Von Freyberg's leadership in this first stage has cleared the decks for the beginning of the next phase, to be led by President-elect Jean-Baptiste de Franssu who will devote himself full-time to his new task. Because of other commitments, President von Freyberg is unable to dedicate himself full-time to IOR duties.

In the different financial agencies reporting to the Secretariat for the Economy, a general pattern of clerical-lay expert cooperation has been followed. The exact nature of this governmental cooperation at IOR is yet to be determined. The five members of the Commission of Cardinals will continue their involvement and will be joined by Cardinal Josip Bozanic of Zagreb, Croatia. They are Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, archpriest of the Papal Basilica of St Mary Major; Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins, archbishop of Toronto; Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin; Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna, and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Six new lay members will be appointed to the board of IOR including Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, France, as president; Clemens Boersig, Germany; Professor Mary Ann Glendon, USA, and Sir Michael Hintze, UK.

Msgr. Alfred Xuereb, secretary general of the Secretariat for the Economy, will be the non-voting secretary of the IOR board, and Msgr. Battista Ricca remains as the prelate of IOR.

Msgr. Xuereb, former secretary to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and to Pope Francis, is in the center of this photo:


The Vatican published today the Apostolic Letter issued 'Motu proprio' by the Holy Father Francis on the transfer of the Ordinary Section of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) to the Secretariat of the Economy.

The motu starts: Confirming a centuries-old tradition, the last Vatican Council II reaffirmed the need for the organization of the Holy See to conform to the needs of the times, above all by adapting the structure of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, their number, denomination and competence, as well as their approaches and mutual coordination, to the real needs of the Church at every moment.

A concrete result of these principles occurred with the promulgation in February 2014 of the Apostolic letter, in the form of a Motu Proprio, Fidelis Dispensator et Prudens, by which I instituted the Secretariat for the Economy as a dicastery of the Roman Curia. In accordance with the recommendations of the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat is responsible for the economic control and supervision of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, the Institutions linked to the Holy See, and the administrations of Vatican City State.

In view of the above, and upon consulting the heads of the dicasteries involved, I consider it appropriate for the Secretariat of the Economy to assume among its institutional competences, from now on and in accordance with the methods and times established by the relative Cardinal Prefect, those tasks which were previously attributed to the so-called 'Ordinary Section' of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and, therefore, to transfer to the aforementioned dicastery the competences which the Apostolic Constitution 'Pastor bonus' of 28 June 1988 had entrusted to that Section of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. As a consequence, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See will no longer be divided into sections and, in the future, it will carry out only those functions previously performed by the Extraordinary Section.

The texts of Articles 1, 2 and 3 follow. The motu concludes:

Article 4

The Prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy shall constitute a technical Commission with the aim of facilitating the transfer of the competences hereto attributed to the Ordinary Section of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See and shall determine, starting from today's date, the methods for resolving pending issues relating to the aforementioned Ordinary Section, up to the complete and effective transfer of competences.

I decree that the measures decided in this Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio be observed in their entirety, notwithstanding any provisions to the contrary, even when worthy of special mention, and that it be published in the daily newspaper 'L'Osservatore Romano', entering into force on the day of its promulgation.


Here, as bullet points, are some of the notes I took today at the press conference on the Holy Sees new financial framework (I dont repeat points made in the above-mentioned stories).

- Cardinal Pell said he had met earlier today with the staff of APSA and IOR to address them and hear their concerns. He said, the more accurate the information, less is the room for fancy and invention. He said there would be a monthly bulletin for staff and he intends to have frequent meetings. He also said that the reforms currently underway were mentioned by the College of Cardinals when they met in 2013 in pre-conclave congregations. Here is a link to the Bulletin the cardinal spoke about: text here
- Cardinal Pell said that, in instituting financial reforms, the Vatican intends to follow international procedures, to have substantial transparency, to have annual audits by outside firms and to appoint an auditor general who will be independent, hopefully before the end of the year. - Joseph Zahra, deputy coordinator and member of the Council for the Economy, said the Council had 10 projects to work on and met for the second time last Saturday They are working on appointing a technical commission to study pension fund. - Re: Vatican media: much attention is being paid to the new forms of social media vis--vis traditional forms such as radio and newspapers. The media in general has radically changed in recent years and social media is what the younger generation follows and how they get their news. Speakers today said they hope to encourage greater numbers of Catholics throughout the world to get their news from Vatican sources. - Ernst von Freyberg on IOR: We have finished Phase One and will start Phase Two and it is important that a new phase be led by a new person (de Franssu). We have created transparency, investigated what needed investigating and looked at the IOR legacy and what is the new legal framework of the Holy See. .... Today IOR is in good shape financially, and the operating profit for 2013 was good. He said he knows the new IOR president de Franssu very well and they have been working together for months. He also said he had surprises and good surprises. Among the latter, he said, was the fact there were no numbered accounts at IOR, no money from bad or questionable organizations or rich families and interest groups. He said it is not difficult to initiate reform in the Vatican as no one blocks you. Von Freyberg said the third good surprise was you, the media: I have been able to know many of you these last 18 months. I did not meet journalists with an agenda or a point to prove. You wanted to learn. - Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, new IOR head: Said his work is a continuation of what he has been doing.. My mission is to the church, to help the Pope in his concern for the poor, to help spread the faith. He said the handover with von Freyberg has been amicable and he praised him and the IOR staff. Said he was grateful for the trust of the Holy Father and Cardinal Pell and Secretariat of the Economy. One of his main goals will be to work towards transparency. He said VAM (Vatican Asset Management) will manage both real estate and stocks and bonds and hopes asset transferral can take place within 24 months. De Franssu said the IOR profile in Phase Two will be transparency and a high level of quality of service. - Asked why Vatican media was inserted into economic re-structuring, Cardinal Pell said this was an important issue for the Council of Cardinals in addition to what he said in his report earlier: The objectives are to adapt the Holy See media to changing media consumption trends, enhance coordination and achieve progressively and appreciably substantial financial savings. - Cardinal Pell was also asked about the expense involved in hiring outside firms to consult on economic and financial and re-organizational matters, and he said, many severely discount their charges for the Vatican and some have been very generous. - De Franssu was asked if IOR would actively seek new clients. He replied, new clients will come on their own. There will be no need to invite them, they will come for our values. Cardinal Pell stressed there would be no attempts to subtract clients from other banks.

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