Pope Francis has taken a bold step to overhaul control of the Vatican's scandal-plagued finances. He created a special department with a variety of powers to oversee all financial affairs in the future.
Pope Francis announced Monday he'd created a Secretariat for the Economy which would answer directly to him and would be headed by Australian Cardinal George Pell, currently the archbishop of Sydney.
He added the department would have broad powers to oversee all of the Vatican's economic and administrative affairs.
The Pope said the Secretariat would be guided in policy making by a 15-member Council for the Economy to be made up of eight cardinals and bishops as well as seven lay financial experts from around the world.
Pundits viewed the inclusion of lay members as a move to bring more outside expertise into the closed worlds of the Vatican finances in order to avoid repeats of scandals that had rocked the Holy See for decades.
The existing department known as the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA) managing financial holdings and real estate would formally assume the role of a central bank, the Vatican explained.
Nuncio Scarano, who worked as a senior accountant at APSA for over two decades, is currently on trial for plotting to smuggle millions of dollars into Italy from Switzerland to help rich friends avoid taxes.
hg/dr (AP, Reuters)