Vatican Round-up

Vatican moves for financial transparency

The Holy See has signed an agreement with Italy guaranteeing full exchange of financial information about Vatican employees, pensioners, foundations and religious institutes that are subject to Italian taxes. Most of those who are employed by or receive payments from the Vatican are not Vatican citizens or do not live within the Vatican City State, but live in Italy.

The move, designed to tackle money-laundering and other forms of financial fraud, should make it more difficult for depositors to use the Institute for the Works of Religion – the so-called ‘Vatican Bank’ – to evade Italian tax obligations. 

The Convention between the Holy See and the government of the Italian Republic in fiscal issues is part of Rome’s programme to improve financial transparency and establish protocols in line with international standards.

Liverpool-born Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, said the agreement is a result of a process that began under Pope Benedict in 2010, when the Vatican opened its financial systems to inspection by Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering agency. 

Writing in L’Osservatore Romano, Archbishop Gallagher said the process “has resulted in meaningful reforms welcomed by the international community.”


Don’t emulate Pilate, preacher says

In our indifference to the violent persecution of Christians and others, we risk being Pontius Pilates who wash our hands of our responsibilities, according to Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household.

Preaching before Pope Francis during the Liturgy of the Lord's Passion on Good Friday, Fr Cantalamessa said, “Jesus is in agony until the end of the world in every man and woman who is subjected to his same torments.”

Acknowledging that violence was a feature of the Old Testament while God guided sinning people along a lengthy path towards a new “creation”, he said that Christianity insists that no one can kill in the name of God.

"Jesus overcame violence not by opposing it with greater violence but by enduring it and exposing all its injustice and futility,” he said, delivering on Calvary a “definitive ‘no’ to violence, opposing it not just with non-violence, but with more: with forgiveness, meekness and love.”

“True martyrs of Christ do not die with fists clenched but with their hands together in prayer,” Father Cantalamessa said, recalling the murders by ISIS militants of 21 Coptic Christians who died “whispering the name of Jesus”. 


Muslims should celebrate a year of mercy

Muslims should join with Catholics in living a year of mercy, “especially because they also believe in one clement and merciful God”, according to Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

Speaking to Vatican Radio while visiting villages in northern Iraq, where he celebrated the Easter Vigil in a tent with 1,000 refugees, the cardinal said that, “if together with Christians, Muslims also celebrate mercy, that fraternity, that closeness can be rebuilt, all founded on the mystery of God, because if peace, reconciliation and mercy do not have God as the basis, obviously they are neither mercy nor peace”.

The cardinal said he had been reassured by meetings with Kurdish leaders, who told him that Christians are at the top of their priorities.

While the situation remained “difficult and delicate,” he said the presence of the Catholic Church helped, and during Holy Week especially the population could be assured of God’s accompaniment. 

“I have already said to several groups, which I have met, that the mystery of their suffering is precious in the eyes of God, because it is united to that of Christ in this Holy Week, therefore they must not think that their suffering is useless and not worth anything,” he said.