Pope Francis Appoints Commissioner to Oversee Rome Basilica’s Financial Assets

The Vatican said that Makrickas was appointed to manage the Chapter’s assets due “to the particular complexities of the economic and financial management,” which has been “exacerbated by the spread of the pandemic.”

Pope Francis prays before the Salus Populi Romani icon in Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major Dec. 8, 2020.
Pope Francis prays before the Salus Populi Romani icon in Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major Dec. 8, 2020. (photo: null / Vatican Media.)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has appointed a Vatican priest to take over the financial management of one of the four papal major basilicas in Rome.

The Vatican announced Dec. 15 that Pope Francis had named Vatican diplomat Msgr. Rolandas Makrickas as extraordinary commissioner for the Chapter of the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major.

The Chapter, a legally constituted organization, is responsible for celebrating liturgies at the basilica and carrying out the church’s pastoral service. The basilica sits within Italian territory but is owned by the Holy See.

The Vatican said that Makrickas was appointed to manage the Chapter’s assets due “to the particular complexities of the economic and financial management,” which has been “exacerbated by the spread of the pandemic.”

He will be assisted by officials from the Secretariat for the Economy, the Governorate of Vatican City State, and APSA, the Vatican’s central bank. 

Makrickas, from Lithuania, has been head of administration in the Secretariat of State since August 2019. The 49-year-old priest previously worked at the apostolic nunciature in Washington, D.C. from 2013 to 2017.

Before being called to Rome, Makrickas was chargé d’affaires at the apostolic nunciature of Gabon and counselor to the apostolic nunciature in Congo. 

The Chapter of the papal major basilica has existed since at least the 1200s, according to documentation. Today, the entity consists of the basilica’s archpriest Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, 24 priests called canons, and coadjutors, who are appointed by the pope.

Pope Francis has a custom of visiting the Basilica of St. Mary Major before and after his foreign trips, praying before the icon of Salus Populi Romani, Mary Protection of the Roman People.

The Chapter experienced significant abuse of its financial assets starting more than a decade ago, when the Chapter’s treasurer, Msgr. Bronisław Morawiec, used his position to embezzle money from the basilica.

Msgr. Morawiec was convicted of fraud, forgery, and embezzlement by the Vatican Tribunal in 2014, and sentenced to four years in prison. He was also ordered to pay back 250,000 euros (around $280,000) to the Chapter.

Ivan Aivazovsky, “Walking on Water,” ca. 1890

10 Scripture Verses to Strengthen You in Hardship

“The witness of Scripture is unanimous that the solicitude of divine providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least things to the great events of the world and its history. The sacred books powerfully affirm God's absolute sovereignty over the course of events …” (CCC 303)