Interview with the President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (Apsa), head of finance and the Vatican coffers
VATICAN CITY. The great and decisive objective of the economic reforms launched by Pope Francis is “to ensure that the way of administering the resources made available to the Church by the generosity of the faithful is transparent and such as not to create embarrassment and discomfort for anyone”. So as to avoid other scandals such as the one that will bring ten people to trial Oltretevere including prelates, officials, financiers, managers and a cardinal, Giovanni Angelo Becciu. This was stated by Monsignor Nunzio Galantino, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (Apsa), to which the Pontiff handed over the cash and accounts of the Holy See.
Excellency, what significance will the process have after the investigation started with the investment in the London property?
“It is useless to hide it. It was and is an embarrassing episode. The judiciary will say what the levels of responsibility are. Certainly the affair has accelerated the procedures that are leading to the adoption of administrative criteria that leave little room for arbitrariness and, if anything, to an opaque management ».
What are the mistakes made in the management of ecclesiastical finances that absolutely must not be repeated? How can scandals be prevented?
“Scandals are prevented by putting in place correct procedures and paying attention to who you choose as your“ travel companions ”. The latest episodes seem to be showing that not all the so-called collaborators were worthy of all the trust placed in them ».
He explains once and for all what the Pence of St. Peter is, which according to the investigators has suffered huge losses due to the “rotten predatory and lucrative system”, and what is it used for?
«The offering is a way of participating directly by the faithful from all over the world, with their offerings, in the universal mission of the Holy Father. Collaborating in the exercise of the Pope’s charity and supporting the expenses for all the evangelization activities of the Church of Rome. It is a practice that has taken different forms throughout history, through collections and donations from individual faithful or entire local churches. Its roots go back to the primitive Church ».
Do you feel comfortable telling a faithful willing to make an offer to the Holy See that he can trust in the proper use of that money?
«We must be careful not to superficially criminalize an economic management that has its own rules, not from today. Of course, the mismanagement being examined by the judiciary, if on the one hand, creates embarrassment, on the other, it is pushing all of us responsible to create the conditions so that the faithful can trust. We will never do enough on this aspect. Believe me”.
But is it possible to keep economics, finance and the Gospel together in a coherent way? “Not only is it possible, but it is a duty. Woe to those who think that everyday life (including administration) is one thing and the Gospel is another. Those who think this automatically vote for inconsistency, double life and cheating. Vigilance is important, but it is not enough. It takes consistency. Or at least we have to try seriously ».
The Vatican is also facing the complex post-pandemic period, and moreover it will not receive any “Recovery Fund”: how will it manage to sustain itself?
«The 2020 budget is being prepared to be presented and approved by the Council for the Economy. Given the difficulties common to all administrations, there will also be a deficit for us. For now not quantifiable. It would not be the first time that the budget of the Holy See closes in red. Among the causes, it should be remembered that most of the activities of the Holy See are “mission activities”, that is, they do not produce profit. They only involve expenses. And then, the reduction in the flow of revenues has their weight on the operating result – due, among other things, to the considerable discounts made on fees to meet the difficulties of commercial establishments, the closure of the Vatican Museums and other factors. The recovery plan is already in place. It began with a considerable reduction in expenses and some adjustments on the salaries of the clergymen ».