The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Holy See’s auditor general, Libero Milone.
In a statement released today, the Vatican said by “mutual agreement” the Dutch-born financier’s “collaborative relationship” with the Holy See ended yesterday, but did not give any reasons.
It added that the search for his replacement would begin “as soon as possible.” Milone was the first auditor general after the position was set up by Pope Francis in 2014 and the office given statutes the following year.
His departure is surprising as just three months ago, he reportedly said he had no regrets since accepting the assignment in 2015. On the contrary, he said he was ready to go “all the way with great enthusiasm” and that he was “highly motivated by the privilege of being available to the Pope.”
The main task of the auditor general is to oversee the auditing of dicasteries and other Holy See institutions including the Governorate of the Vatican City State. Among other duties, he is also required to submit annual audit reports and perform specific audits at the request of the Council for the Economy or by the Secretariat for the Economy.
Milone, a former employee of Deloitte, Fiat and Wind Telecom, had a staff of more than 12 people. He was put under the spotlight last June when an external audit by accountancy giant PwC, the first of its kind for the Vatican and part of the financial reform program, was abruptly ended after just four months and the probe given to the general auditing office.
More recently, he signed a letter with Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, reprimanding the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), the Vatican body responsible for managing the Vatican’s real estate, after it told Vatican departments to supply their financial information not to the general auditor, but to an outside one.
Milone and Cardinal Pell wrote a letter in May to all dicasteries saying “with deep regret” they had to intervene to refute APSA’s instruction. APSA’s arbitrary and unilateral action was viewed as an extraordinary encroachment not only on the authority of the Secretariat for the Economy and the auditor general, but also that of the Secretariat of State. And unlike the ending of the PwC audit last year, inside Vatican sources said it did not come from a higher authority, and was therefore read as a provocative move by APSA to “claw back” some of its powers.
APSA has been arguably the most resistant to reforms involving greater financial scrutiny.
The Vatican’s first auditor general has therefore not had an easy tenure. Even in October 2015, during his first months, Milone was forced to complain to the Vatican Gendarmerie after he discovered his computer had been hacked. The disclosure of that story gave way to the scandal Vatileaks II.
Among those involved in reforming the Holy See’s finances, his resignation is being spoken of as a “tricky business” and “not good news.”
His departure after two years may simply be routine, but given the continued resistance to reform in various parts of the Holy See — especially when it comes to auditing internal finances — it seems unlikely.