Vatican hopes to avoid financial scandal during Jubilee year
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican finance minister said Tuesday he hopes to avoid financial scandal with the upcoming Jubilee Year, saying the plans will be subject to new Vatican procedures to ensure they follow international standards for transparency and accountability.
Cardinal George Pell outlined the Vatican’s financial reform during a conference Tuesday to launch a book on better managing church assets — a priority for Pope Francis after years of financial scandals and mismanagement at the Holy See.
Francis announced the Jubilee Year earlier this month to focus the church on his priority: mercy. It immediately set off panic among Rome officials who remember well the chaos that surrounded the 2000 Jubilee, when some 25 million pilgrims flocked to the Eternal City to mark the start of Christianity’s third millennium. Millions were spent cleaning up monuments and constructing new buildings, including a huge Vatican garage.
The Jubilee Year, starting Dec. 8, is only the 27th in the history of the Catholic Church. Such years allow the faithful to receive special indulgences, ways to repair the damage of sin beyond the absolution granted by going to confession.
Vatican officials have said the frugal-minded Francis aims for a spiritual Jubilee focused on his message of mercy, not a spending spree.
“We hope to avoid scandals, certainly in such a moment,” Pell said, adding that the budget plans would be subject to the new procedures that his Secretariat for the Economy has put in place for all Vatican departments.
Francis named Pell to head the new Vatican finance ministry last year to try to bring order and discipline to the Holy See’s finances, long a mystery even to the cardinals responsible for overseeing them.
Pell said “substantial” reforms were going ahead and that he planned to submit the 2015 budget for each Vatican department to Francis in May.