Pope Francis’ financial reforms and the EU's role in achieving economic transparency

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The financial reforms instituted in the 8 years of Francis’ pontificate can be credited to the Secretariat of the Economy: a body that supervises all the economic activity for the dozens of departments within the Vatican, each of which previously oversaw their own finances.

Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
“What they are doing is bringing all the financial data together so the Vatican can see what they have. This allows them to know exactly how much they have and how they can use it.”

The Vatican’s internal control systems have also been strengthened, a significant change that will make reporting suspicious financial activities easier. 

Francis’ Biographer
“We are now starting to see the first prosecutions under the new Vatican laws. I believe this process will continue because we are dealing with crimes from many years ago. But they are only now being processed.”

The new system of accountability is the legacy of the previous pontificate. And also thanks of the European Union. 

Due to historical reasons, the Vatican cannot issue its own currency. Instead it uses money produced by Italy. When the euro was created, Brussels reached an agreement with the Holy See that allowed the Vatican City State to use the euro so long as it followed the same financial control measures as other European countries. As a result, the AIF, or the Financial Information Authority, was created.

Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
“The European Union asked all of the nations that were part of the economic agreement, and that therefore use the euro, to have an agency dedicated to financial information —to ensure that money was not being used to fund terrorism and prevent money laundering from illegal activities.”

The AIF works with other countries to combat instances of financial fraud, such as this one: 

The agency alerted Spanish authorities that a group was posing as the Vatican to solicit money. The police responded and put an end to the fraud. 

One could say the path to the Vatican’s financial transparency began here, at the Rome Mint.

Javier Romero

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