Vatican’s Financial-Transparency Law Enacted


VATICAN CITY — A new law governing financial transparency, supervision and information-sharing within the Vatican came into effect Oct. 8, the Vatican has announced.

The Holy See Press Office said in a communiqué Oct. 9 that the new norm, Law XVIII, “strengthens the current internal system for the prevention and countering of money laundering and the financing of terrorism, in conformity with international guidelines.”


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It marks the latest development in efforts by both Pope Francis and, up until his retirement, Benedict XVI to reform the financial system of Vatican City and the Holy See.

Law XVIII implements Pope Francis’ motu proprio of Aug. 8, which called for a broadening of existing Vatican laws on financial supervision.

The Vatican said the new law is also in continuity with existing norms introduced by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 aimed at preventing and countering illegal activities in the area of monetary and financial dealings.

The new regulation is also enacted in conjunction with Pope Fran
cis’ motu proprio of July 11, which reformed some of the Vatican’s penal laws related to crimes of a financial nature. Law XVIII, the Vatican added, is “a contribution to the stability and integrity” of the Vatican’s financial management “at a global level.”

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi stressed that Law XVIII formally expands the competence of the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority, strengthening its preventive and prudential vigilance and the overall trustworthiness of all Vatican financial operations.

But he said Vatican authorities still are working on establishing rules for the supervision of the financial dealings of foundations and nonprofit organizations based within Vatican city state — a measure also included in the Aug. 8 motu proprio.


Monitoring ‘Suspicious Activities’

In a separate statement, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states, said that “special attention” will now be dedicated to giving information on “suspicious activities,” which will be carried out under the auspices of the Financial Information Authority (FIA).

If a “valid reason” to suspect activities of money laundering or financing of terrorism should occur, the Financial Information Authority will send a “detailed report” to the Vatican’s promoter of justice, and transactions and operations under suspicion may be suspended “for up to five working days,” the archbishop explained.

He added that the FIA has powers of “general supervision” to ensure prescribed measures are taken by “obligated subjects” against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. He also said that “administrative sanctions” can be applied by the FIA, or, in the most serious cases, by the president of Vatican city state, upon suggestion by the FIA.

Archbishop Mamberti stressed that Law XVIII provides for “prudential supervision” of bodies that handle financial activity “in the name of or on behalf of third parties, for the purposes of the production or exchange of goods or services.” This has been done to meet recommendations of MoneyVal, the Council of Europe’s financial watchdog that carried out a review of the Vatican’s finances last year, the archbishop said.

The Vatican diplomat further stated that individuals who threaten peace and international security will be automatically denied the ability to trade or make financial transactions with the Vatican. He said the FIA may immediately place “a preventative block” on their goods and resources and financial transactions. “Cautionary measures” can also be applied to those where there are “valid reasons to suspect” they pose a threat to peace and international security, but only if the subject is added to the list of suspects within a 15-day period.

The new law also regulates the “cross-border transportation” of cash amounting to more than 10,000 euros, in cooperation with other states and “on the basis of agreement protocols,” Archbishop Mamberti said.


Msgr. Scarano’s Trial

The news comes as the trial continues of Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, the former Vatican accountant accused of smuggling $26 million in cash into Italy at the behest of a family of shipping magnates. The Italian official worked at the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA), the department that manages the Vatican’s physical properties and investments.

All the assets of APSA belong directly to the Pope, whereas the assets of the Institute for the Works of Religion (the Vatican Bank) belong to dioceses and religious orders.

Rome prosecutors said Oct. 8 that existing controls put in place by the Vatican “don’t go far enough” and still lack the supervisory and monitoring powers required to prevent money laundering and other financial crimes. They said the destination and provenance of funds, especially those from third parties, were difficult to track.

It’s not clear, however, whether their assessment included the latest regulatory measures. Also, in July, Pope Francis established a commission to review the Vatican’s economic and administrative structures, including APSA, but their recommendations are not expected for some time.

As far as Archbishop Mamberti is concerned, the three-year program of reforming Vatican finances has now reached a “particularly advanced stage.”

The fundamental purpose of these changes, he said, has been “to contribute in a concrete way to the growth of the international community, within which the Holy See is called to play a guiding role and example.”

Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.

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Council of Cardinals Recommends Extensive Vatican Shake-Up


Lombardi 015 (523x800)VATICAN CITY — At the end of their first three-day meeting to examine Church governance and reform of the Roman Curia, members of a select “council of cardinals” have recommended that Pope Francis make radical changes to the way the Vatican is run.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters Oct. 3 that the international group of cardinals did not intend to update the apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus — Blessed John Paul II’s 1988 instruction on governance of the Roman Curia — “with retouches and marginal modifications.”

Instead, they wished to introduce “a new constitution with significant new aspects,” with the aim of decentralizing the governance of the Church.

“It will be necessary to wait a reasonable amount of time following this council, but this is the idea,” Father Lombardi told reporters in a final briefing on the Oct. 1-3 meeting. “The cardinals have made it clear that they do not intend to make cosmetic retouches or minor modifications to Pastor Bonus.”

The intention of the cardinals is to emphasize “the nature of the service on the part of the Curia and the universal and local Church in terms of subsidiarity, rather than the exercise of centralized power,” Father Lombardi added. “The intended direction would be to put this into practice in the service of the Church in all her dimensions.”

Such a move had been expected after the leader of the eight cardinals on the council, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, said recently that the plan was to go much further that just changing “this and that” with regards that document.


Secretariat of State Changes

Another important theme raised was the nature and functions of the Secretariat of State. This should be viewed as “the secretariat of the Pope,” Father Lombardi said, and “the word ‘state’ should not give rise to doubt.” He also explained that the meeting of the council had been very useful for the Pope in order to offer direction to the new secretary of state, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, who will take up his position on Oct. 15.

To help improve relations between the heads of the dicasteries (Vatican offices) and the Pope, and coordination between the various bodies, the cardinals also examined the role of a ‘moderator Curiae’ (moderator for the Curia) and the functions of such a figure.

“The issue was touched upon, but no decision has been made as to whether it will form part of the new constitution,” Father Lombardi said. “However, it is, in fact, one of the hypotheses suggested by the council.”

Diocesan curias often have a “moderator Curiae,” a kind of “chief operating officer” who coordinates the administrative duties and oversees those who hold positions of authority in diocesan administration. Some of these duties rest with the Vatican’s sostituto, the deputy secretary of state, but these have evidently been judged insufficient.

This may be a response to a criticism aired recently by German Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. In June, the cardinal called for monthly meetings between the heads of Curial dicasteries and for direct communication between department heads and the Pope without going through the secretary of state.

“The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing,” said Cardinal Kasper, who served at the Vatican as a senior official for more than a decade under both John Paul II and Benedict XVI. He added that the secretary of state “has become, of late, like a government middleman.”


Synod Reorganization

Also discussed were possible changes to the organization of the Synod of Bishops that the Pope convenes to discuss the specific theme of Church life. Father Lombardi said this was moved to the top of the cardinals’ agenda because the synod council is due to meet at the Vatican Oct. 7-8. He also said the theme of the next synod is expected to be announced “in the coming days.”

The role of the laity and their contribution to the Church also figured highly in the discussions. Pope Francis and the cardinals discussed “how to ensure that this dimension of the Church’s reality is more adequately and effectively recognized and followed in the governance of the Church,” Father Lombardi said. “There is a Pontifical Council for the Laity, but it is still possible to think of ways of strengthening this aspect.”

Vatican finances were also examined, but not in great detail, as the Holy Father has appointed several commissions to deal with financial issues, and their work continues.

The council of cardinals, made up of eight members from six continents, comprises Cardinals Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo; Sean O’Malley of Boston; George Pell of Sydney; Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican city state; and Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

At the beginning of the three-day meeting, which took place in a small room in the St. Martha guest residence and followed an intense schedule, Pope Francis emphasized the council’s “juridical status, stability and continuity.” He also specified that the members are not “continental delegates,” but were chosen for their rich pastoral experience and because they come from large dioceses.


‘Open and Constructive Dialogue’

Father Lombardi said the Pope holds the eight cardinals in high regard and values their advice in helping take “the most suitable approach” in governing the Church. “This is not an insignificant task, since confidence and esteem foster the climate of serenity necessary for an open and constructive dialogue,” he said.

The first meeting on Oct. 1 examined the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council, not only to give direction to organizational matters, but to help provide “a broader theological and spiritual vision of the Church,” with a view to creating new “structures of governance.” Each of the participants presented a brief summary of the suggestions they had received.

The cardinals also looked at the Synod of Bishops in their discussions. Father Lombardi said a subject of the next synod wasn’t yet known, but added that the Pope had made reference to a “theme of an anthropological nature, the family according to the Gospel, but, in any case, it is not yet precise.”

“The Holy Father also said that prominent themes such as family and matrimonial pastoral (duties) will be the order of the day in the activity of the Church in the near future,” Father Lombardi added. This may include examining the status of divorced and remarried Catholics in the Church — a subject often raised by Francis and Benedict XVI in the recent past.


Next Meeting

The Vatican announced in the evening of Oct. 3 that the next meeting of the council will take place Dec. 3-5, with another one expected in February 2014. “In this way, the work of the council, especially at this early stage, may proceed expeditiously,” a statement said.

Father Lombardi stressed that the Pope and the cardinals “continue to exchange opinions and messages, even in the absence of a plenary meeting of the council.”

Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent

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Tributes to John XXIII and John Paul II Pour in After Canonization Announcement


VATICAN CITY — Countless tributes have been pouring in for Blessed Popes John XXIII and John Paul II after Pope Francis officially announced they will be elevated to the altars at a joint canonization Mass on April 27, 2014, Divine Mercy Sunday.

The Holy Father decreed at an ordinary public consistory in the Vatican Sept. 30 that the two greatly loved popes will be “enrolled among the saints” on the Second Sunday of Easter next year.

The announcement, which was widely expected, is considered highly appropriate, given that Divine Mercy Sunday was a special day for Blessed John Paul II, who established the feast in 2000.


Its origins date back to Polish nun St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), who had a devotion to the Divine Mercy after an encounter with Jesus. In visions and conversations with Jesus, St. Faustina said Jesus asked her specifically for a feast of Divine Mercy to be established so mankind would take refuge in Jesus. Blessed John Paul II died on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2005.

“The canonization date couldn’t be more appropriate,” said John Paul II’s biographer, George Weigel.

“John Paul II knew that the late modern world bore terrible spiritual scars from the experiences of two world wars, the Gulag, the Holocaust, the Ukrainian terror famine, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the Cambodian and Rwandan genocides, the abortion slaughter and so much more,” Weigel told the Register.

“He also knew that the answer to all that had been given in the vision of Divine Mercy granted to Sister Faustina. That’s why he ‘extended’ what many once regarded as a distinctly Polish phenomenon to the entire world Church — and indeed to the entire world.”

Msgr. Slawomir Oder, postulator of John Paul II’s cause for canonization, told Vatican Radio Sept. 30 the “whole pontificate of John Paul II is a message of the Divine Mercy,” and noted that it is also a key theme of Pope Francis’ pontificate. “I see in Pope Francis an extraordinary continuation of this message,” he said.

Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, said he believes that the canonization is a prophecy come true. Recalling the cries of “Santo Subito” (Saint now!) immediately following John Paul II’s death, he said his canonization was “a pious wish of the people of God.”

“It really was a prophecy,” he told Avvenire, the newspaper of the the Italian bishops’ conference. “The Holy Father often refers to the instinct of the people of God, of this ‘sense of the faithful’ that anticipates official pronouncements of the Church. The recognition of the sanctity of John Paul II took place just like this.”

Cardinal Rylko said he felt moved when Pope Francis made the announcement, in Latin, in the Consistory Hall in the Apostolic Palace. He also shared his views on the remarkable effect John Paul II had on people.

“Every time I go in the Basilica of St. Peter, I am impressed by what I dare to call a ‘permanent audience’ that takes place in front of the altar with his relics, where the faithful remain in prayer,” the cardinal said. “John Paul II is the pope whose death brought him even closer to the people. And his special ‘audiences’ continue every day.”

Knowing and working closely with him was “a grace,” Cardinal Rylko said, but added that that grace “is also a huge responsibility, because the saints are teachers and their teaching must be upheld.”

“Pope John Paul II tells us that holiness is not something far away, but the high level of ordinary Christian living,” he said. “So his holiness is not one of monuments or saints, but asks to be lived and imitated.”

Meanwhile, in Sotto il Monte, the birthplace of Angelo Roncalli who would later become Pope John XXIII, bells were rung out in celebration of the announcement.

Msgr. Loris Capovilla, John XXIII’s private secretary, now in his 90s, still lives there. Speaking to Vatican Radio Sept. 30, he recalled that when he first saw the then Archbishop Angelo Roncalli in a photo taken in 1950, his first impression was that he had “seen the picture of goodness.”

He recalled him saying that if you do not put your “I” under your feet, “you’ll never be free and never enter into the land of peace.” They were words the Pope would bear in mind when he called the Second Vatican Council, Msgr. Capovilla said, “with those sublime words : ‘My person counts for nothing, a great lesson in humility, meekness, love and hope.’”

For John XXIII, Pope Francis has dispensed with the need for a miracle attributed to his intercession, usually required for a canonization. But this decision was not as arbitrary as it might seem.

“It may seem like he’s waiving it but in reality, there have been so many [unconfirmed] miracles for John XXIII… Why wait for a [confirmed] miracle when there have been so many cases?” a Vatican source closely connected with the cause told the Register Oct. 1.

Some have also read into the possible meaning of having a joint canonization, that it is aimed at unifying two sides of the Church, or an attempt to “canonize the Second Vatican Council.” But the source dismissed this, saying the causes “were ready and so we went ahead.”

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters Sept. 30 the decision to canonize John XXIII without a second miracle was also “connected to the context of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council” as well as the “universal fame of sanctity” surrounding him.

He also recalled that, on the papal plane back from Rio, Pope Francis had referred to John XXIII has the one who set the Church on a new path after the council, and that John Paul II was the “great enabler” of the council teachings.

He further noted that John XXIII also dispensed with the need for a second miracle when he canonized the first saint of his pontificate, St. Gregory Barbarigo, a 17th-century cardinal and diplomat.

Vatican officials have told the Register the reaction to the announcement of the canonizations has been very positive. “We’ve been waiting for the longest time, so it’s a beautiful thing that it’s happening,” said one.

Msgr. Oder stressed that the “certainty of canonization is the certainty that John Paul II is truly in heaven, in the sight of God and intercedes for us.”

“A saint of our times means a saint who knows our joy, our concerns, our problems, pains, a saint who has the opportunity to interpret our deeper issues and ask for divine grace for these needs,” he said. “But, on the other hand, he is an example of life, a sure guide in pointing the way to meet the challenges of the day, to give witness to the Christian life.”

Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome Correspondent

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Pope Francis Gives New Interview


Pope Francis has given a 4,500 word interview to the atheist founder of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Eugenio Scalfari.


The interview took place at the Pope’s request last Tuesday, Sept. 24, in the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence where the Holy Father is living. The Pope recently wrote a letter to Scalfari, answering three questions he put to him on the faith.

He also gave a longer interview to the Jesuit publication La Civilta Cattolica at the end of August.

Together with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s frank exchange with Italian atheist Piergiorgio Odifreddi, each is an attempt to open the Church up to dialogue with the world and non believers, in accordance with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

The latest exchange, published in this morning’s edition of the newspaper, is worth reading in full, but here are some of the most interesting passages:

“The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old. The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope but have neither one nor the other, and the problem is they don’t even look for them any more. They have been crushed by the present. You tell me: can you live crushed under the weight of the present? Without a memory of the past and without the desire to look ahead to the future by building something, a future, a family? Can you go on like this? This, to me, is the most urgent problem that the Church is facing.”

“Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good… Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good.”

“The real trouble is that those most affected by this [narcissism]  –  which is actually a kind of mental disorder  –  are people who have a lot of power. Often bosses are narcissists… Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy.”

“[The curia] has one defect: it is Vatican-centric. It sees and looks after the interests of the Vatican, which are still, for the most part, temporal interests. This Vatican-centric view neglects the world around us. I do not share this view and I’ll do everything I can to change it. The Church is, or should go back to being, a community of God’s people, and priests, pastors and bishops who have the care of souls, are at the service of the people of God.”

“It also happens to me that when I meet a clericalist, I suddenly become anti-clerical. Clericalism should not have anything to do with Christianity. St. Paul, who was the first to speak to the Gentiles, the pagans, to believers in other religions, was the first to teach us that.”

“I’d like to remind you that [Cardinal] Carlo Maria Martini also came from that order [the Jesuits], someone who is very dear to me and also to you. Jesuits were and still are the leavening  –  not the only one but perhaps the most effective  –  of Catholicism: culture, teaching, missionary work, loyalty to the Pope.”

On whether their exchange might result in Scalfari’s conversion: “We cannot know that, but I don’t have any such intention.”

“Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace. Vatican II, inspired by Pope Paul VI and John, decided to look to the future with a modern spirit and to be open to modern culture. The Council Fathers knew that being open to modern culture meant religious ecumenism and dialogue with non-believers. But afterwards very little was done in that direction. I have the humility and ambition to want to do something.”

“I’m not Francis of Assisi and I do not have his strength and his holiness. But I am the Bishop of Rome and Pope of the Catholic world. The first thing I decided was to appoint a group of eight cardinals to be my advisers. Not courtiers but wise people who share my own feelings. This is the beginning of a Church with an organization that is not just top-down but also horizontal. When Cardinal Martini talked about focusing on the councils and synods he knew how long and difficult it would be to go in that direction. Gently, but firmly and tenaciously.”

“I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God, there is God and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation. Jesus is my teacher and my pastor, but God, the Father, Abba, is the light and the Creator. This is my Being.”

“Unrestrained liberalism only makes the strong stronger and the weak weaker and excludes the most excluded. We need great freedom, no discrimination, no demagoguery and a lot of love. We need rules of conduct and also, if necessary, direct intervention from the state to correct the more intolerable inequalities.”

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