Pope Francis Names Spanish Jesuit Head of Vatican’s Economy Secretariat

Vatican News: Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves asked the Pope to not require his ordination as a bishop so he can return to normal religious life post-term.

Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves
Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves (photo: Office of Communication, Society of Jesus; used with permission, via CNA)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis Nov. 14 appointed Spanish Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, following the expiration of Cardinal George Pell’s term in February.

From Merida, Spain, Father Guerrero, 60, will begin his term as prefect in January 2020.

Pope Francis established the Secretariat for Economy in 2014 as part of his financial reform of the Vatican. Its task is to oversee the financial aspects of both the Roman Curia and the Vatican City State administration, including a review of financial reports.

The position of prefect of the Economy Secretariat has been empty since Feb. 26, when Cardinal Pell was confirmed to no longer hold the position via a tweet from Alessandro Gisotti, then-interim Holy See Press Office director.

Cardinal Pell, who is in a prison in the Australian state of Victoria following his 2018 conviction on five counts of sexual abuse, was the first prefect of the Secretariat for Economy. The cardinal took a leave of absence as prefect starting in June 2017, when he returned to Australia to face trial. The cardinal will now appeal his conviction to Australia’s supreme court.

Cardinal Pell’s five-year term as prefect was to have expired in February 2019. His resignation was not noted in the Vatican’s daily news bulletin, so it is believed his term lapsed and was not renewed, and he was not removed from office.

Father Guerrero, who has been a Jesuit since 1979, has a degree in economics from the Autonomous University of Madrid, as well as degrees in theology and in philosophy and letters.

Ordained a priest in 1992, since 2017, Father Guerrero has been in Rome serving in the positions of general counselor and delegate of the superior general for the interprovincial houses and works of the Jesuits.

From 2014 to 2017, he was treasurer and project coordinator of the Jesuits in Mozambique.

“This call was something completely unexpected. Initially, it filled me with anxiety, and I felt quite numb,” Father Guerrero said in an interview with Vatican News published Nov. 14.

“But I welcome it with humility, with confidence in the Lord and in the team that is already working in the Secretariat for the Economy. I will collaborate in the service of this mission by offering the best of myself.”

According to Vatican News, Father Guerrero, who speaks Italian, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish, asked Pope Francis to not require his ordination as a bishop, so that after his term as prefect, he can return to normal religious life.

“I come to this task from outside the Vatican Curia, and I will be entering a new world,” the priest said. “I thank the Holy Father for allowing me to carry out this mission as a Jesuit, so that I can continue to remain a Jesuit when this service ends.”

As he told Vatican News: “I hope to contribute to the economic transparency of the Holy See and to help to use efficiently the goods and resources that are at the service of the important evangelizing mission of the Church.”