Holy See announces new economic, communications framework

Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, speaks at the Vatican press office, July, 9, 2014. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

The Vatican announced Wednesday major changes to both its economic and communications frameworks, including an increased role for the Secretariat for the Economy.

Also announced were the appointment of a new president for the 'Vatican bank' , a committee to study the Vatican's pension system, and a new committee for Vatican communications.

“There are many challenges and much work ahead,” said Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, at a news conference held July 9, during which he presented the changes to the Vatican economy.

By a July 8 motu proprio, “Confermando una tradizione,” Pope Francis modified the section of “Pastor bonus”, the apostolic constitution regulating the Roman Curia, which governs the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

The motu proprio transferred the competencies of APSA's ordinary section to the Secretariat for the Economy.

The transfer of APSA's ordinary section to the Secretariat for the Economy will be managed by a small project management office led by Danny Casey, who was a trusted advisor to Cardinal Pell when he was Archbishop of Sydney.

With the transfer of competencies, APSA will serve as a treasury or central bank for the Holy See and Vatican City.

The 'Vatican bank”, or IOR, meanwhile, will continue its reform under a new executive team.

Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, a Frenchman who is a member of the Council for the Economy, is the IOR's new president.

de Franssu told journalists, “it is a great responsibility that I have accepted, and I do so with great humility to help the Holy Father and the Church, to increase their work for the poor and for the propagation of the faith.”

Along with de Franssu, three lay members of the new IOR board were appointed: Clemens Boersig of Germany; Michael Hintze of the U.K.; and Mary Ann Glendon of the U.S. Two additional lay members will be announced later.

Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, secretary general of the economic secretariat, will be a non-voting secretary of the IOR board, and Msgr. Battista Ricca will remain its prelate. The cardinal commission for the Vatican bank will now include Cardinal Josip Bozanic of Zagreb, as well as its five existing members.

The new board will carry on the process of reform of the IOR; over the next three years, its statutes will be revised to reflect three priorities: strengthening its business foundation; shifting asset management to a separate office; and focusing the IOR on giving financial advice and payment services for clergy, congregations, dioceses, and lay Vatican employees.

Regarding Vatican pensions, the Council for the Economy has established a committee to make proposals for their revision.

“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 changing environment,” noted Joseph Zahra, the economic council's deputy.

The Vatican has also appointed a committee to reform Vatican media and communications, with members coming from both the Vatican and internationally.

The international experts appointed are Christopher Patten of the U.K., who will be the committee's president; Greg Erlandson of the U.S.; Daniela Frank of Germany; Fr. Eric Salobir, O.P., of France; Leticia Soberon of Spain; and George Yeo of Singapore.

Its Vatican staff are Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; Giacomo Ghisani of Vatican Radio; Msgr. Carlo Maria Polvani of the Secretariat of State; Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz of the Vatican Internet Service; and Giovanni Maria Vian of L'Osservatore Romano.

The committee is entrusted to draft within 12 months a reform plan, with the task to adapt the Holy See media to changing media consumption trends, enhance coordination and achieve progressively and sensitively substantial financial savings.

Cardinal Pell announced that “following the recent positive experiences with initiatives like the Pope App and the Holy Father’s twitter account, digital channels will be strengthened to ensure the Holy Father’s message reach more of the faithful around the world, especially young people.”


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