A strange appointment for Pell

A strange appointment for Pell

‘Cardinal George Pell, the Australian prelate charged by Pope Francis with cleaning up the Vatican’s murky finances’, having been called back from Rome to clarify pedophile activity by priests in Australia while under his supervision, appears to have been brought from one mess to another for a Jesuits Pope whose mission it has been to successfully directed attention of the world from Vatican from perhaps one of the biggest Vatican scandals in modern history. 

Pell’s response to what he found when questioned concerning the Vatican bank scandal which was made public by the butler are as follows– 


I began by remarkingpell that this question was one of the first that would come to our minds as English-speakers (lumped together by the rest of the world as ‘Anglos’) but one that might be lower on the list for people in the another culture, such as the Italians.

Those in the Curia were following long-established patterns. Just as kings had allowed their regional rulers, princes or governors an almost free hand, provided they balanced the books, so too did the popes with the curial cardinals (as they still do with diocesan bishops).

And later:

It is important to point out that the Vatican is not broke … in fact we have discovered that the situation is much healthier than it seemed, because some hundreds of millions of euros were tucked away in particular accounts and did not appear on the balance sheet.

This is an extraordinary revelation. Pell doesn’t give the details, but there are clues:

Congregations, Councils and especially the Secretariat of Stateenjoyed and defended a healthy independence. Problems were kept ‘in house’… Very few were tempted to tell the outside world what was happening, except when they needed outside help.

Attempts to reform the Vatican bank faltered, says Pell:

When we return to the last years of Benedict XVI’s pontificate, we find that troubles had returned to the Vatican bank. The bank’s director, Dr Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was sacked by the lay board and a power struggle in the Vatican resulted in the regular leaking of information. The scandal exploded when Paolo Gabriele, the papal butler, released thousands of pages of photocopied private Vatican documents to the press. My first reaction was to ask how a butler could have enjoyed any access, much less regular access for years, to sensitive documents. Part of the answer is that he shared a large undivided office with the two papal secretaries. All of this was severely damaging to the reputation of the Holy See and a heavy cross for Pope Benedict…

The scandal exploded when Paolo Gabriele, the papal butler, released thousands of pages of photocopied private Vatican documents to the press

Reporter: Damian Thompson

Article title: Cardinal Pell: ‘hundreds of millions of euros’ were hidden away in the Vatican