VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis announced on Feb. 24 the establishment of a new entity for oversight of Vatican economic and administrative affairs, headed by Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia.
According to the statement issued by the Holy See Press Office, the new Secretariat for the Economy “will have authority over all economic and administrative activities within the Holy See and the Vatican city state.”
Cardinal Pell has been appointed prefect of the new secretariat. His role includes the implementation of policies decided upon by a new 15-member Council for the Economy, made up of eight cardinals or bishops “reflecting different parts of the world,” and seven “lay experts of different nationalities with strong professional financial experience.”
No appointments have been made yet besides that of Cardinal Pell. According to the Holy See Press Office, the Council for the Economy will replace the now obsolete “council of 15,” composed only of cardinals.
The Australian bishop was made a cardinal by John Paul in 2003. Since 2007, he has served on the committee of 15 cardinals overseeing Vatican financial affairs. In 2013, Pope Francis chose Cardinal Pell to become part of the council of eight cardinals tasked with examining the governing structures of the Church and considering reforms of the Curia.
The two groups of cardinals met last week to consider the recommendations of the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See, (COSEA) charged with reviewing the Vatican’s administrative procedures.
Pope Francis’ creation of a new Secretariat for the Economy, issued formally in the Feb. 24 “motu proprio,” Fidelis et Dispensator Prudens, comes as a response to the cardinals’ endorsement of COSEA’s recommendations.
The Holy Father will also appoint an auditor general, yet to be named, who will have the capacity to audit any Vatican agency at any time.
Under Cardinal Pell’s leadership, the new secretariat will “enable more formal involvement of senior and experienced experts in financial administration, planning and reporting and will ensure better use of resources, improving the support available for various programs, particularly our works with the poor and marginalized,” the press release indicated.
Cardinal Pell began serving in the Curia in 1990, when he was appointed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Since that time, he has also worked at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the advisory committee of bishops for the new translation of the Roman Missal.
As a leading figure in the Australian Church, the cardinal served in various positions with Caritas Australia, the Australian Catholic University and the University of Notre Dame-Australia, among other institutions. He also established the Sydney Catholic business network and was a government appointee to the Australian Constitutional Convention, recommending that Australia become a republic.