Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pope Francis’s lay finance expert vows ‘no more Scandals’

A Maltese economist tapped by Pope Francis to help lead a new finance council says the pope’s reforms will ensure that the sort of scandal which erupted last summer, involving a Vatican accountant allegedly enmeshed in a John le Carré-esque plot to smuggle millions in cash, becomes a thing of the past.

“We’re building a system of controls that will ensure these scandals never happen again,” said Joseph F.X. Zahra, who spoke to the Globe in an exclusive March 8 interview.

Centering on a former Vatican official named Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, the smuggling scheme was only the latest financial scandal to engulf the Vatican, capping a period that also saw senior Vatican bank officials quit in the face of a criminal probe, and credit card services frozen at the Vatican over allegations of suspicious transactions.

Observers believe Francis’ efforts to promote financial glasnost are important not merely for the Vatican but to set a tone for the wider Catholic church, where accounting practices often remain informal and subject to abuse. A 2007 study by Villanova University, for instance, found that 85 percent of American dioceses had discovered instances of embezzlement within the previous five years.


Boston Globe

By John L. Allen Jr.


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