POPE FRANCIS ON VATICAN FINANCES, INVESTMENTS AND PETER’S PENCE

POPE FRANCIS ON VATICAN FINANCES, INVESTMENTS AND PETER’S PENCE

Scrolling down the transcript from the Q&A session between Pope Francis and journalists aboard the papal flight from Tokyo to Rome, the reader comes to questions about Vatican finances, questionable transactions, possible corruption, and the use of Peter’s Pence funds for investments such as buying real estate.

Below is that exchange (not always an easy read in translation but you will get the general idea). Some of the names and terminology may not be clear unless you have followed reports in recent months and years about Vatican finances, the Vatican Bank, etc.  The Vatican’s AIF is mentioned many times (Financial Information Authority): a new director was named yesterday – see previous blogs.

At the end of the papal exchange with the media, I look at what Peter’s Pence is, was meant to be and how it is apparently being used, at least in part.

Cristiana Caricato (TV2000, Italy): Holy Father, people read in the newspapers that the Holy See has acquired an apartment for hundreds of thousands of euros in the heart of London and they become a bit disconcerted, because of this use of Vatican finances. Also, in particular, because it involves Peter’s Pence. Did you know of these financial things? And above all, in your opinion, is it correct to use Peter’s Pence in that way? You have often said that money should not be made with money. You have often denounced the unscrupulous use of finances. However, we see that this operation involves the Holy See. This scandalizes in some way. How do you see this whole event?

Pope Francis: Thank you. First of all, in good administration it is normal for a sum to come from the Peter’s Pence, and what do I do? Put in a drawer? No, this is bad administration. But I look to make an investment, and when there is the need, to give… when there is the necessity, in one year, you take it. Your capital you do not devalue, if it maintains or if it grows a little. This is good administration.

If [it is] an administration of the drawer, it is bad. But you should try to make a good administration, a good investment. Is that clear?

Also an investment, as we say, an investment by widows? What do widows do? [Ed.note: An Italian saying] Two or three here, five here, if one falls, one of the others so that they are not ruined is always on security, this is always moral.
If from Peter’s Pence you invest in a weapons factory, the pence is not a pence there, eh?

If you make an investment and for years, without touching it, the capital does not go, Peter’s Pence should be spent in one year, one year and a half, until the other collection arrives which is made world-wide. And this is good management.

On security, and also, yes, you can buy a property, rent it, and then sell it. But, on security, with all of the securities, for the good of the people of the Pence. This one. Then, what happened, happend: A scandal. They have done things that do not seem ‘clean.’

But, the report did not come from the outside. That reform of the economic methodology, that Benedict XVI had already started, is going forward. And it was the auditor of the internal accounts to say’Here there is a bad thing. Here there is something that is not working.’ And he came to me. And I said, but are you sure? ‘Yes.’ And he let me see the numbers. ‘What should I do?’ [he asked]. [I said:] There is the Vatican justice. Go and give the report to the Promoter of Justice. And in this I remained content, because you see that the Vatican administration now has the resources to clarify the bad things which happen inside, like in this case, that — if it is not the case of the apartment in London, because this is not yet clear — but in that [other instance] there were cases of corruption.

And the Promoter of Justice studied the accusations, consulted, and saw an imbalance in the budget. And then, he asked me for permission to make the searches. I said: ‘Is it clear, your report?’ He told me, ‘yes, there is a presumption of corruption in these cases. I should carry out searches in this office, this office, and this office.’ And I signed the authorization.

The searches were done in five offices. And up to today, we have the presumption of innocence, but there is capital that is not administered well, also with corruption.

I believe that in less than two months they will begin questioning the five people who are blocked [suspended from the Vatican], because there were indications of corruption. You will ask me: ‘And these five are corrupt?’ No, the presumption of innocence is a guarantee, a human right. But, there is corruption, and you will see. With the searches you will see if they are guilty or not.

It’s a bad thing, it’s not good what is happening in the Vatican. But it is clear that the internal mechanisms are beginning to work, those that Benedict XVI had already started to make. And I thank God. I do not thank God that there is corruption, but I thank God that the Vatican monitoring system is working well.

Bruni (Holy See Press Office): The next question is from Phil Pullella of Reuters.
Pope Francis: [small talk]
Philip Pullella (Reuters): [small talk] If you permit me, I would like to follow a little on the question Cristiana asked, with a few more details.

There is a lot of worry in the last few weeks about what happened and about the finances of the Vatican. And according to some people, there is an internal war over who should control the money, according to some people. The majority of the members of the council of the AIF administration are dismissed. The Egmont Group, a group of these financial authorities have suspended of the Vatican, the secure communication […] The director of AIF is still suspended, as you said, and still there is no general revisore.

What can you do or say to guarantee to the international financial community, and to the faithful in general, who are called to contribute to Peter’s Pence, that the Vatican will not return to be considered a pariah, that is, to have trust you will continue and not return to the habits of the past?

Pope Francis: Thank you for the question. The Vatican has made steps forward in its administration, for example, the IOR today has the acceptance of all the banks and can act like the Italian banks, normal. Something that was not there a year ago. There is progress.

Then, the Egmont Group, that is not an official international group, a group to which the AIF belongs. And the international control does not depend on the Egmont Group, a private group that has its weight. It is a private group. And MONEYVAL will carry out the inspection it has scheduled for the first months of the next year and it will do it, it will do it.

The director of the AIF is in suspension because there were suspicions of bad administration. The president of AIF was strong with the Egmont Group to take back the documentation. And this the justice cannot do.

In the face of this, I consulted with an Italian judge of a high level. ‘What should I do?’ Justice in front of an accusation of corruption is sovereign in a country. It’s sovereign. And no one can involve themselves there inside. No one can say to the Egmont Group, ‘your papers are here.’ No, the papers should be studied, that they add up to what seems a bad administration, in the sense of a bad control.

It was AIF that did not control, it seems, the crimes of others. And therefore [it failed] in its duty of controls. I hope that they prove it is not so. Because there is, still, the presumption of innocence.

And for the moment, the magistrates, the magistrate is sovereign. He should study how it went. Because on the contrary, a country should have a superior administration that would harm the sovereignty of the country.

And the [term of the] president of AIF was expiring [November] 19th. I would call him a few days before and he was not in agreement that I was re-calling him [as president of AIF] and he announced that the 19th he was leaving. I found a successor, a judge of the highest juridical and economic level, national and international, and at my return, he takes charge of AIF and things will continue like so.

It would have been a contradiction for the monitoring authority to be sovereign over the state. It is something which is not easy to understand, but what is a little disturbed is the Egmont Group, which is a private group. It helps a lot, but it is not the monitoring authority of MONEYVAL. MONEYVAL will study the numbers. It will study the procedures. It will study how […] the Promoter of Justice. And how the judges have determined the things.

I know that in these days the interrogation of the five who were suspended will begin or has already begun. It is not easy, but we should not be naive. We should not be slaves. Someone told me — but I do not believe it — but they said, ‘yes, with this, we have touched the Egmont Group. You scare the people . We are creating a little terrorism…’ Let’s leave that aside. We go forward with the law, with MONEYVAL, with the new president of AIF, and the director was suspended but maybe he is innocent. I would like that, because it is a beautiful thing [if] one is innocent and not guilty. I felt a little bit of noise with this group that was not wanting that the papers be touched that belong to the group.

Pullella: And a guarantee for the faithful that…?

Pope Francis: To guarantee this? Look, it’s the first time that in the Vatican the pot is discovered from the inside, not from the outside, From the outside many times. And they said look there and we had so much embarrassment. … But in this Pope Benedict was wise. And he began a process that matured and now the institutions that the auditor had the courage to make a written report against five people. …The auditor is working. Really, I do not want to offend the Egmont Group, because they did so much good, help, but in this case the state has sovereignty. And even justice is more sovereign then the executive power, more sovereign. It is not easy to understand but I ask you all to understand this difficulty.

PETER’S PENCE. Since the news was first published that some of Peter’s Pence donations were being used by the Vatican in real estate investments and possibly in some questionable dealings, the faithful have been wondering if they should continue to donate to what they thought was a Vatican office that assisted papal charities.

It is clear from media reports that the faithful have been talking about this to their pastors and bishops, and making comments via blogs, emails to columnists (such as myself), etc.

Below is the full link to the Vatican website about Peter’s Pence but here are a few of the main points of what the Vatican considers “An ancient custom still alive today,” and a collection “derived from the primitive Church. … This is in harmony with a tradition dating back to the Gospel (cf. Lk 10:7) and the teaching of the Apostles (cf. 1 Cor 9:11-14)” (Letter of Pope John Paul II to the Cardinal Secretary of State, 20 November 1982).”

In particular, the website notes that, “In the first year of his Pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI stressed the proper meaning of this offering: ‘Peter’s Pence’ is the most characteristic expression of the participation of all the faithful in the Bishop of Rome’s charitable initiatives in favor of the universal Church. The gesture has not only a practical value, but also a strong symbolic one, as a sign of communion with the Pope and attention to the needs of one’s brothers; and therefore your service possesses a refined ecclesial character”. … The ecclesial value of this gesture becomes evident when one considers how charitable initiatives are connatural to the Church, as the Pope stated in his first Encyclical Deus caritas est (25 December 2005).”

Pope St. John Paul’s words to St. Peter’s Circle in 2003 are also quoted: “You are aware of the growing needs of the apostolate, the requirements of the ecclesial communities, especially in mission countries, and the requests for aid that come from peoples, individuals and families in precarious conditions. Many expect the Apostolic See to give them the support they often fail to find elsewhere. In this perspective the Peter’s Pence Collection is a true and proper participation in the work of evangelization, especially if one considers the meaning and importance of concretely sharing in the concerns of the universal Church.”

We also read: “The faithful’s offerings to the Holy Father are destined to Church needs, to humanitarian initiatives and social promotion projects, as well as to the support of the Holy See.”

Thus, if one looks at the historical aspect as well as the current meaning of Peter’s Pence, it is clear why the faithful might be confused about the ultimate destination of their contributions: will the money go to papal charities or real estate purchases (however much revenue they might bring to the Vatican, as the Pope noted) ?

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/secretariat_state/obolo_spietro/documents/actual_en.html

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS VICE POSTULATOR FOR VENERABLE FULTON SHEEN – POPE FRANCIS SUMMARIZES ASIA JOURNEY AT GENERAL AUDIENCE – TRANSCIPT OF PAPAL PRESSER ON TOKYO-ROME FLIGHT

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS VICE POSTULATOR FOR VENERABLE FULTON SHEEN

As I mentioned last week in this same spot, you all know by now that the Vatican has approved a miracle through the intercession of Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and the diocese of Peoria in Illinois where he is buried announced on Monday, November 18 that Sheen will be beatified in Peoria on December 21st.

Given that great news, last weekend I re-aired Part I of a conversation I had some time ago with Msgr. Richard Soseman, a pastor in the diocese of Peoria and also the vice postulator of the cause for sainthood of Archbishop Sheen. This weekend, I will re-air Part II of that conversation.

We talk about Msgr’s priestly life, his time studying in Rome and then working at Congregation for clergy, how his life and priesthood was impacted by Sheen, how he was assigned to the cause for sainthood, the role of a vice postulator and the miracle that led to Sheen’s beatification. A second miracle, by the way, is needed for canonization.

So stay tuned after the News and Q&A for Part II of that conversation.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

Here is Part I of my interview with Msgr. Soseman about Venerable Fulton Sheen – soon to be Blessed Fulton Sheen – that aired last weekend: https://soundcloud.com/ewtn-radio/vatican-insider-112319-archbishop-fulton-j-sheen

POPE FRANCIS SUMMARIZES ASIA JOURNEY AT GENERAL AUDIENCE

Though he had to be exhausted after his long and grueling trip to Asia, Pope Francis presided at the Wednesday general audience Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square. As is customary after an apostolic visit, Francis focused the general audience catechesis on his just-completed trip to Thailand and Japan. He began by thanking civil and religious authorities and all those responsible for preparing the visit.

“In Thailand,” said the Pope, “I met with the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch as a sign of esteem and of the importance of promoting respect and cooperation between the religions, and I encouraged the local Church’s support of the sick and poor at Saint Louis hospital. Among the highlights of my visit were the meetings with priests, consecrated men and women, the bishops and finally a group of young people. In the two celebrations of Mass we saw clearly how the Gospel is being inculturated among the Thai people.

“In Japan,” said the Pope, “the motto for my visit was ‘Protect All Life’: a vital theme for a county that experienced the devastation of the atom bomb and more recent disasters. I was able to spend time in prayer at Nagasaki and Hiroshima, where I met with survivors and their families, and I repeated my appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In my meeting with young people, I encouraged them to face the future without fear by opening their hearts to God’s love in prayer and in service of others. I ask you to join me in entrusting the people of Thailand and Japan to God’s loving providence. May he bless them with prosperity and peace.”

During his audience, the Holy Father announced that on Sunday, December 1, he will go to Greccio in Italy’s Lazio region to pray at the site of the first living nativity scene set up here by St. Francis in 1223. It is said that Francis wished to attract pilgrims to the presepe or nativity scene in Greccio and to discourage them from going to the real first Nativity scene in Bethlehem because of the dangers to traveling pilgrims as the Holy Land was then under control of Muslims. Since 1223 there has been a living nativity scene here every Christmas season.

Francis previously visited Greccio on January 4, 2016.

Addressing Italian pilgrims, Pope Francis spoke of Albania and its people who have suffered greatly as a result of an earthquake that struck on Tuesday. The Pope said he was praying for the dead, the injured and their families and was close to all the Albanian people. He also noted that Albania was the first country in Europe that he wanted to visit.

TRANSCIPT OF PAPAL PRESSER ON TOKYO-ROME FLIGHT

Following is the transcript in English of the press conference held aboard the papal flight from Tokyo to Rome yesterday, November 26. As you will read at the end, “This unofficial transcript and translation is a collabortion of journalists at CNA, and its Italian and Spanish language news partners. Every effort is made for accuracy and clarity.”

I will go into detail in a separate post about the Pope’s remarks on Vatican finances, questionable transactions, possible corruption and the use of Peter’s Pence funds for investments such as buying real estate.

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/full-text-of-pope-francis-in-flight-press-conference-from-japan-36598

VATICAN ANNOUNCES NEW AIF PRESIDENT

VATICAN ANNOUNCES NEW AIF PRESIDENT

Statement of the new president of the (Vatican’s) Financial Information Authority (Autorità di Informazione Finanaziaria – AIF) following his appointment:

“I am honored to have received this appointment, aware of the full weight of the moral and professional responsibility it carries, and I thank the Holy Father for the trust he has placed in me,” the new president of the Financial Information Authority, Carmelo Barbagallo, said when speaking to Vatican News after publication of the news of his appointment.

“In carrying out my service of responsibility in leading the AIF,” Barbagallo added, “I will work to bring all my experience accumulated in forty years working at the Bank of Italy, as an inspector, as head of vigilance of the Italian banking and financial sector and in the context of the supervision of the European banking system.”

“I am sure,” he explained, “that the AIF will be able to give its own contribution in its role as a supervisory authority, so that the fundamental values of fairness and transparency of all the financial movements in which the Holy See is engaged may continue to be affirmed and recognized.”

“I intend to reassure the international system of financial information,” the AIF President concluded, “that all cooperation will be given in full respect of the best international standards. I will be at work already today to ensure continuity in the work of the AIF in pursuing its important institutional objectives.”

(Click here and scroll down to read what the Holy Father told journalists in regard to the AIF, Vatican finances, corruption, Peter’s Pence, etc. during the press conference on the papal plane yesterday as he was returning to Rome from Japan: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/full-text-of-pope-francis-in-flight-press-conference-from-japan-36598)