Pope Francis Overhauls Vatican’s Financial System for 1st Time in 25 Years, Australian Cardinal Pell Named Keeper of Finances

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | February 25, 2014 12:46 PM EST

For the first time in 25 years, Pope Francis has led the overhauling of the Vatican's financial system. On Monday, he announced the creation of an economics secretariat to control all economic, administrative, personnel and procurement functions of the Holy See. Australian Cardinal George Pell will man the post and report directly to the pope.

REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
Pope Francis greet cardinals and bishops during the general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican October 30, 2013.

Pope Francis ordered the changes to have "immediate, full and stable effect."

Elected into position as supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic church in March 2013, Pope Francis appointed a commission of inquiry in the middle of the same year. The goal was to recommend ways to improve efficiency and transparency especially Vatican's financial chambers.

The creation of new Secretariat for the Economy followed this.

Cardinal Pell, currently the Archbishop of Sydney, will move to Rome to be able to perform his new duties. Apart from the pope, he will report to a new 15-member economy council of eight cardinals from various parts of the world and seven lay experts.

Cardinal Pell is expected to start his new job "as soon as possible," the Vatican said in a statement.

Cardinal Pell and the new Secretariat for the Economy will oversee the finances of the Holy See - the central governing structure of the Catholic Church - and the Vatican City State - the 44-hectare city state in central Rome. These include the profit-making Vatican Museums and Vatican's post office.

It is likewise tasked to prepare and execute an annual budget with detailed financial statements.

The changes "will enable more formal involvement of senior and experienced experts in financial administration, planning and reporting and will ensure better use of resources, improving the support available for various programmes, particularly our works with the poor and marginalized," the Vatican said.

The commission likewise suggested to Pope Francis last week to adopt international accounting standards and financial management and reporting practices, as well as boosting internal controls.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi / )
Pope Francis greet cardinals and bishops during the general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican October 30, 2013.
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