On July 9 in the Holy See Press Office, a press conference was held to present the new economic plan for the Holy See. The speakers were Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, Joseph F. X. Zahra and Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, deputy coordinator and member of the Council for the Economy respectively, and Ernst von Freyberg, president of the Board of Superintendence of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR).
Cardinal George Pell announced new and important initiatives for improving the economic management and administration of the Holy See and Vatican City State. These 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 on the Organization of the – of the Holy See (COSEA), and are considered essential to face risks and weaknesses and, at the same time, to create in the future a new platform for improving economic management. All the changes were approved in the recent meetings of the Council for the Economy (5 July) and the Council of Cardinals (1-4 July), and it is expected that they will be approved by the Holy Father.
The 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).
The Prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy expressed his satisfaction with the fact that the Holy Father has approved these important initiatives. Both Cardinal Pell and the Council for the Economy gave thanks for the Pope’s unwavering support and contributions.
“There are many challenges to face and much work to be done”, Cardinal Pell observed. “The COSEA has recommended that various issues be faced as a matter of urgency, such as the transfer of the Ordinary Section of the APSA, the Pension Fund, the media and the 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 concluded.
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 continuing 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 which 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, and 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 are 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, the 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 honour 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’s 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.
The 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 Board of the IOR, and Msgr. Battista Ricca remains as the Prelate of the IOR.