Pope Francis issued a new decree on Thursday mandating full disclosure and control of the economy for Vatican executives, including cardinals, and stipulating that no one can accept personal gifts worth more than 40 euros.
The decree followed another papal law last May in which Francis tightened the rules for Vatican procurement contracts.
The practice of gift giving among Catholic clergymen has been the source of several scandals in the Church in recent years.
In 2019, a US Church investigation found that Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of West Virginia sent personal checks totaling more than $ 350,000 to about 140 other clergymen, including two US cardinals, for more than a decade.
He later used local church funds to reimburse himself. The investigation found he was responsible for adult sexual harassment and financial inadequacy. He denied wrongdoing.
One of the Vatican cardinals who received the gifts from Bransfield returned the money and the other said he gave it to charities.
Last year, a Vatican report on the disgraced former US Cardinal Theodore McCarrick showed that he had been giving monetary gifts to other clergymen, including Vatican officials, on a regular basis over a period of decades.
McCarrick was expelled from the priesthood in 2019 after an internal investigation found him guilty of sexual abuse of minors and adults, as well as abuse of power.
The 40 euro limit on gifts applied to all Vatican employees at all levels and the rest of the decree applied to managers, whether clergy or lay.
Managers are required to disclose at the time of appointment and every two years thereafter whether they have been the subject of any financial investigation.
It also states that they cannot use tax havens or own real estate obtained with money from illegal activities. The tax authorities of the Vatican are equipped with controls.
The signatories must declare that they do not hold any investments or shares in companies with a high risk of money laundering, even through third parties.
You cannot hold shares or other interests in companies whose policies contradict the social doctrine of the Church. This was an obvious indication of pharmaceutical companies and those that are seriously damaging the environment.
The Pope said staff must adhere to “internationally recognized rules and best practices” that require transparency from those in key roles to tackle “conflicts of interest, patronage practices and corruption in general”.
In December, the Pope issued a decree making charity funds more transparent and tightening control over the Secretariat of State, the most important part of the Vatican government, following a luxury real estate scandal in London. Continue reading
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