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Cardinal Pell: Real estate mismanagement telling of Vatican finances

The second volume of Cardinal George Pell's “Prison Journal” provides troubling insight into the Vatican's finances. 

When he was overseeing the Secretariat for the Economy, Cardinal Pell discovered that 300 properties owned by the Vatican listed a combined revenue of just over 70,000 dollars a year.

A figure that is not even close to market prices in Rome.

Former Prefect, Secretariat for the Economy
“Who knows? I don't know. I mean, one of the stories was that quite a number of the properties were run down. But of course, anybody who's managing a portfolio of properties, makes it their business to keep the properties in good repair so they can be rented. Now, I'm not equipped to try to explain that brute fact, but I can vouch for the fact that that was in the reports. Now, that's indicative of all sorts of things. It's indicative of why we're in financial difficulty in the Vatican.”

As a member of a 15-person committee dedicated to overseeing the Vatican's finances, the Cardinal was already aware of this situation when Pope Francis named him Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy in February 2014. 

Former Prefect, Secretariat for the Economy
“And I underappreciated the persistence and ingenuity of my opponents. I suspect, they've been at it for a long time, and they're very formidable in defending their patch.”

The reforms implemented in recent years aim to find discrepancies in the Church's finances and prevent future errors. 

Former Prefect, Secretariat for the Economy
“Well, we're talking about what I hope is well and truly a situation that is passed. My successor is a competent man, and an honest man. He's battling under difficulties as I was, but the world has changed. We do have proper procedures in place. We now have the capacity for a lot of people to identify, if the information is published, where we are.”

Cardinal Pell hopes anyone accused of mismanaging Vatican funds will have the opportunity to defend themselves in the event of their going to trial.

Former Prefect, Secretariat for the Economy
"I think we're heading in the right direction. But, I do have sympathy for these people who are accused because everybody has a right to due process, and has a right to try to clear their name.”

In April 2020, the Cardinal was released from prison after his conviction for alleged abuse was unanimously overturned by the Australian Supreme Court. 

Watch the full interview with Rome Reports Premium at www.romereports.tv