CNA Staff, Nov 30, 2020 / 16:00 pm
Cardinal George Pell has spoken of his surprise at the apparent extent of “criminality” involved in recent Vatican financial scandals.
Speaking in an interview with Associated Press Monday, the cardinal, who led the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy from 2014-2017, said that he regretted that his efforts to bring tough mechanisms for financial transparency and accountability had been vindicated by the details of recent scandals.
Pell told AP that he knew, from the time Pope Francis put him in charge of a key part of his curial reform agenda, that the Vatican finances were “a bit of a mess.”
But, the cardinal said, he “never, never thought it would be as Technicolor as it proved.”
“I didn’t know that there was so much criminality involved,” Pell said.
Until 2017, Pell led an effort called for by Pope Francis to bring order and accountability to the Vatican’s finances, which have long lacked centralized procedures, controls, or oversight, claiming at one point to have discovered hundreds of millions of euros being kept “off books” from the ordinary Vatican accounts.
Pell’s reforming efforts met with institutional resistance from some curial officials and departments, most notably Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who at the time of Pell’s tenure at the Secretariat for the Economy, was sostituto of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. Becciu at one point acted to cancel a contract Pell had made for an external audit of Vatican finances.
CNA has also reported that Pell and Becciu clashed repeatedly over financial affairs, including the use of Swiss banks to provide financing for different investments allegedly obscured from Vatican balance sheets, including the controversial purchase of a London building.