Economy secretariat advances financial transparency at the Vatican

The Vatican’s new financial management policies focused on accountability are described in a handbook delivered by the Secretariat for the Economy last week, an internal bulletin of the secretariat announced on Wednesday.
“Having sound and consistent financial management practices and reporting helps provide a clear framework of accountability for all those entrusted with the resources of the Church,” said Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, according to the Nov. 5 bulletin.
The new policies will come into effect Jan. 1, 2015. In the run-up, the Secretariat for the Economy will provide training and support to Vatican and Holy See offices to help implement the new policies.
The manual on the new policies was endorsed by the Council for the Economy, and approved by Pope Francis. Its delivery was accompanied with a leader bearing headings from both the Secretariat and the Council for the Economy.
Both were established Feb. 24 by the motu proprio Fidelis dispensator et prudens.
The council has oversight over the Vatican’s and Holy See’s administrative and financial structures and activities, and is composed of eight cardinals and seven lay financial experts. The secretariat is charged with executing and keeping vigilance over the council’s directives.
Cardinal George Pell and Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, who is president of the council, wrote to all the Vatican bodies receiving the handbook that “under the new policies, all entities and administrations of the Holy See and the Vatican City State will prepare in a consistent and transparent manner financial information and reports.”
“Those entrusted with the resources of the church are accountable for the way those resources are used for pursuing the mission of the church, and regular reporting is essential,” the letter read.
The policies will be implemented, however, “so to allow a smooth and consistent transition to the new management system.”
The new policies are based on four key principles: they must be consistent with relevant international accounting standards and generally accepted reporting practices; they must apply to all the entities and administration of the Holy See and Vatican City State; they will undergo a specific training by the Secretariat of the Economy, which will continue in the following year; and they will be reviewed by one of the major international audit firms.
No mention of the firm is given in the bulletin, but sources maintain that the company chosen is Deloitte.
According to the letter the goal of this reform is to provide “sound and consistent” financial management policies, in order to facilitate planning and decision making; to strengthen the planning process; and to make available more economic resources for the mission of the Church.
“The purpose of the Manual is very simple. It brings Financial Management practices in line with international standards and will help all Entities and Administrations of the Holy See and the Vatican City State prepare financial reports in a consistent and transparent manner,” read a declaration by Cardinal Pell in the special edition of the secretariat’s bulletin.

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