The Vatican has found hundreds of millions of euros in various accounts with no trace of it being in its books.
Economy minister Cardinal George Pell said the money was “tucked away” in accounts of various departments, according to Reuters.
He did not suggest any wrongdoing but said Vatican departments had long had “an almost free hand” with their finances and followed “long-established patterns” in managing their affairs.
In an article in Britain’s Catholic Herald Magazine to be published on Friday, the Australian cardinal writes that the find means Vatican finances are in better shape than previously believed.
“In fact, we have discovered that the situation is much healthier than it seemed, because some hundreds of millions of euros were tucked away in particular sectional accounts and did not appear on the balance sheet,” according to an advance text made available on Thursday.
“It is important to point out that the Vatican is not broke … the Holy See is paying its way, while possessing substantial assets and investments.”
Pell heads the new Secretariat for the Economy that is independent of the once-powerful Secretariat of State.
“Very few were tempted to tell the outside world what was happening, except when they needed extra help,” he said.
“It was impossible for anyone to know accurately what was going on overall.”
Pell is an outsider from the English-speaking world transferred by Pope Francis from Sydney to Rome to oversee the Vatican’s often muddled finances after decades of control by Italians.
Pell’s office sent a letter to all Vatican departments last month about changes in economic ethics and accountability.
As of Jan. 1, each department will have to enact “sound and efficient financial management policies” and prepare financial information and reports that meet international accounting standards.
Each department’s financial statements will be reviewed by a major international auditing firm, the letter said.
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