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Vatican orders its first external audit of finances

The Vatican has hired an external auditor to review its finances following a series of scandals and concerns about transparency. The pope has vowed to clean up murky and wasteful finances at the Holy See.

With the Holy See plagued by financial scandals that have seen millions of euros go off the books, on Saturday papal spokesman Federico Lombardi said one of the world's top auditing firms would examine the Vatican's financial statements.

PricewaterhouseCoopers will audit church records including assets, income and expenses in order to implement "new financial management policies and practices in line with international standards," Lombardi said.

Pope Francis has vowed to clean up church finances after a series of recent scandals have revealed widespread waste. Some of his reform efforts have come up against resistance from clergy.

A Vatican financial statement released this year found 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) of assets off the books, as departments and clergy intent on maintaining power attempt to avoid scrutiny from a central accounting office.

Two books published this year based on confidential Vatican documents from a special reform commission established by Francis revealed widespread waste and greed in the Catholic Church.

The Vatican has not denied the accuracy of the documents and reports of transgressions within the church, but officials say the issues are old and have been resolved through reforms instituted by Francis.

Two years ago, a book based on information from Pope Benedict XVI's butler exposed corruption and infighting within the Vatican. Many believe that those revelations ultimately weighed on the pope's unprecedented decision to retire.

cw/mkg (KNA, Reuters)

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