Vatican City – Pope Francis, galvanized by a scandal over Vatican finances, has ordered the most powerful bodies in the city-state to launch an unprecedented audit of its wealth and crack down on runaway spending.
At the suggestion of his economic chief, Cardinal George Pell, Francis has set up a “Working-Party for the Economic Future” which brings together the Secretariat of State, or prime minister’s office, the Vatican Bank and other agencies.
Francis has told the panel “to address the financial challenges and identify how more resources can be devoted to the many good works of the Church, especially supporting the poor and vulnerable,” Danny Casey, director of Pell’s office at the Secretariat for the Economy, said in an interview.
The pope’s initiatives come as five people stand trial in the Vatican over the leak of confidential documents in two books published last month that described corruption, mismanagement and wasteful spending by church officials.
Francis, 78, has pushed for more openness and transparency in Vatican financial and economic agencies but he has faced resistance from the Rome bureaucracy.
On the flight back to Rome on Monday after a visit to Africa, Francis told reporters that the so-called Vatileaks II scandal was an indication of the mess that he’s trying to sort out. The trial of two former Vatican employees alongside the books’ authors highlighted church efforts “to seek out corruption, the things which aren’t right,” he said, according to a Vatican transcript.