Vatican Round-up

Vatican’s economic reform on track, resistance from some, cardinal says

As fresh economic reforms begin to take hold throughout the Vatican, Pope Francis’ finance minister has revealed that Rome has more than €1.3 billion in assets it didn’t previously know it possessed, although this must be balanced against a projected deficit of more than €700 million in its pension fund. The overall effect, according to Cardinal George Pell, is that the Vatican’s total assets should be calculated at more than €2.6 billion, roughly a third more than previously believed.

Addressing his fellow cardinals, Cardinal Pell explained that the discrepancies had been due to an overly compartmentalised reporting system that allowed significant pockets of assets to go undetected.

He has also confirmed Cardinal Wilfrid Napier’s comments that the Council for the Economy has faced some resistance from larger offices that had been used to having greater autonomy.

The South African cardinal had earlier said that a fairly smooth rollout of more effective and transparent budgeting procedures and accountability throughout the Vatican met with “a hiccup” when some of the larger entities “did not want to come on board” and were more “resistant” to mandated changes. “But it’s the very big ones we need (to comply) so the little ones have a good example” to follow, he said.


Pope Benedict has no regret about decision to retire, aide says

Retired Pope Benedict XVI has never doubted or regretted his decision to resign, knowing it was the right thing to do for the good of the Church, said Archbishop Georg Gänswein, prefect of the papal household and personal secretary to the retired pope.

“The church needs a strong helmsman,” and Pope Benedictwas keenly aware of his own waning strength while faced with such a demanding ministry, the archbishop said in an interview published in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

Two years after Pope Benedict’s historic announcement to step down as supreme Pontiff, Archbishop Gänswein said the retired pope “is convinced that the decision he made and announced was the right one. He has no doubt. He is very serene and certain in this: His decision was necessary and made ‘after having repeatedly examined my conscience before God,’” he said, citing words from the Pope’s February 11, 2013, announcement.

Pope Benedict had told a stunned audience of cardinals assembled for an ordinary public consistory that “I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry”.

Archbishop Gänswein said in the interview that Pope Benedict was aware of his “duty not to look out for his own self but for the good of the Church”.


Pope calls for solidarity with migrants after deadly sea crossing

Pope Francis once again urged solidarity with migrants who risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea for Europe, and assured prayers for the victims of a deadly crossing in early February.

During a general audience recently, the Pope called for a spirit of solidarity with migrants “so that no one lacks necessary aid”. He said he was following the news coming out of Lampedusa “with concern”. Lampedusa is a southern Italian island that serves as a port of entry for many of the migrants illegally entering Europe by sea.

The Pope was responding to reports that 29 migrants had died of hypothermia after being rescued by the Italian coast guard; they were part of a group of 105 African migrants whose raft had capsized in the Mediterranean.

Their raft had set off from Libya on February 7. Later, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that the loss of life in the Mediterranean over the weekend of February 7-8 was feared to be as high as 300 people, including children.