Vatican rules out foul play in discovery of lost funds

The Vatican has ruled out foul play in the discovery of the hundreds of millions of euros missing from the Holy See’s balance sheet. Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said there was “nothing illegal, illicit or poorly administered” about the missing funds.

The clarification came after the discovery was made by Australian Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

Fr Lombardi said: “It should be observed that Cardinal Pell has not referred to illegal, illicit or poorly administered funds, but rather funds that do not appear on the official balance sheets of the Holy See or of Vatican City State, and which have become known to the Secretariat for the Economy during the current process of examination and revision of Vatican administration, to acquire a more comprehensive knowledge of the latter in view of the planned rationalisation. It is indeed a sign and result of constructive cooperation between the various Vatican institutions.

“Moreover, it was known and had been previously explained, also publicly by the Prefecture of Economic Affairs, that the consolidated balance sheets of the Holy See and Vatican City State, presented every year to the College of Cardinals, do not in any way encompass the totality of the numerous administrations under Vatican auspices, but only the main institutions of the Roman Curia and the State,” he said.


Cardinal Pell had suggested that for centuries unscrupulous figures took advantage of the Vatican’s financial naivety and secretive procedures.

Vatican finances were unregulated and allowed to “lurch along, disregarding modernaccounting standards”. But no longer: new structures and organisations are bringing Vatican finances into the 21st century, and making their workings transparent, with full accountability.

The cardinal told The Catholic Herald: “it is important to point out that the Vatican is not broke. Apart from the pension fund, which needs to be strengthened for the demands on it in 15 or 20 years, the Holy See is paying its way, while possessing substantial assets and investments.

“In fact, we have discovered that the situation is much healthier than it seemed, because some hundreds of millions of euros were tucked away in particular sectional accounts and did not appear on the balance sheet. It is another question, impossible to answer, whether the Vatican should have much larger reserves,” he said.