He also wanted to incorporate technical expertise from lay financial experts, to update the Vatican's accounting to modern international standards.
The ultimate goal, Zahra explained, is that greater efficiency and transparency with the Vatican's finances will yield higher gains and ultimately benefit the common good. The Vatican Bank reported $75.5 million in net profits in 2014 after only $3.2 million in profits in 2013 largely due to the costs of the reforms.
Pope Francis could then, with approval of the bank's commission of cardinals, dispense the majority of the profits to charities.
The Pope is so concerned about the global economy – and the Vatican's finances in particular – because he has taught that the human person is at the heart of the economy, Zahra explained, and that behind the recent economic crisis was an even greater "human crisis."
"What saddens the Pope," Zahra said, "is really also the monstrosity of social decay, the monstrosity of poverty, the marginalization which is…most of the time the result of human abuse of the way we do economics."
These economic abuses are reflected in decision-making of both business owners and consumers -- "greed, selfishness, dishonesty, lack of transparency," he listed. When these abuses are rampant, the dignity of the human person is discarded or marginalized.
This leads to what the Pope has called "an economy of exclusion and inequality" where many persons are unable to put their God-given talents to use for the greater common good because they are either unemployed or exploited by their employers.
"We all have our own talents, and different talents. And if these talents are not being used or are not being given the opportunity to use them," he explained, "then what you end up with is really a situation of misery."
The solution to this is "solidarity," he insisted, an economic system which is rooted in human dignity and that empowers everyone to become "artisans of their own destiny."
In a free market that is ordered to the common good, people are able to put their talents and creativity to use for society through work and innovation, he said. The common good, he clarified, is not just the good of today's society but the good of future generations.
This responsibility for the impact our decisions have on future generations was highlighted in Pope Francis' recent encyclical Laudato Si, Zahra explained.
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Matt Hadro was the political editor at Catholic News Agency through October 2021. He previously worked as CNA senior D.C. correspondent and as a press secretary for U.S. Congressman Chris Smith.