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Vatican better off than thought

December 5, 2014

The Vatican's secretariat for the economy says millions of euros have been found which had been missing from balance sheets. Ongoing reforms aim to make the Catholic church's finances more transparent.

Cardinal George Pell
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Brambatti

Hundreds of millions of euros were found "tucked away" in accounts of various Holy See departments without having appeared in the city-state's balance sheets, the Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy has said.

In an article published in the UK's Catholic Herald Magazine on Friday, Cardinal George Pell said the discovery meant that the Vatican's financial situation was "much healthier than it seemed."

"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 said.

'Bad old days'

Despite the missing figures, Pell did not suggest any wrongdoing. For a long time Vatican departments had had "an almost free hand" with their finances and followed "long-established patterns" in managing their affairs, he said, adding that reforms were "well under way and already past the point where the Vatican could return to the 'bad old days'."

Transparent finances

Major reforms to adhere to international financial standards and prevent money laundering have been implemented since Pope Francis was elected in March, 2013.

Cardinal Pell himself was appointed by Pope Francis as part of the latter's efforts to reform the Church and make it more transparent. After decades of muddled bookkeeping, Pell aims to make the Vatican's finances "boringly successful."

In the past, the Vatican Bank has come under fire for numerous scandals including last year's allegations that the bank had been used by money launderers.

ksb/tj (Reuters, AP)