In a letter in the form of a motu proprio - the last of the year 2020 - Pope Francis officially removed the management of his funds from the Secretariat of State, and strengthened controls over the Vatican’s finances, after the scandal of the purchase of a luxury building in London involving some of the most senior officials of the Holy See.
By the motu proprio signed on December 26, 2020, the successor of Peter wrote in stone the law that he had mentioned in his letter of August 25 to the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, on the transfer of administrative management of the “funds, bank accounts, and investments, including real estate,” from the Secretariat of State to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA).
This is an opportunity for Pope Francis to centralize the management of Vatican finances around a smaller staff. From this perspective, the Secretariat for the Economy sees its role reinforced, being increased by the title of “Pontifical Secretariat for Economic and Financial Questions.”
In addition, the Holy See also strengthens specific controls over certain organizations that are linked to it, which manage accounts and funds from donations.
Thus, the motu proprio will establish greater control and better visibility of Peter’s Pence, which supervises the collections that fund the Holy See’s charities—an organization singled out during the financial scandals revealed by the press in 2020 .
The Peter’s Pence “treasury,” the management of which was previously entrusted to the deputy secretary of state, will now be managed by APSA as a way of reassuring donors.
In other words, all economic and financial entities—including those which until now were managed by the Secretariat of State—“are under the control, supervision, and direction of the Secretariat for the Economy,” with the sole exception of those entities for which the Holy Father has expressly provided otherwise.
Above all, by means of this new decree, the Holy Father has resized the functions of the administrative office of the Secretariate of State, which will no longer have to manage any euros, except in the context of “the human resources necessary to carry out the activities related to its internal administration, preparation of its budget and balance sheet and other non-administrative functions performed so far.”
With these new arrangements hitting the Terza Loggia—an expression which designates the floor of the Apostolic Palace where the Secretariat of State has its seat—the circle seems almost complete, and the reforms more or less completed. But the internal trials are far from over.