Pope sets up body to overhaul Vatican
AAP - July 20, 2013 12:17AM
POPE Francis has set up a special commission of lay experts to overhaul the economic and administrative structure of the Vatican in a radical bid to streamline and clean up the scandal-hit institution.
The commission will delve into the workings of the Vatican's bloated departments and draft reforms to tackle instances of favouritism or corruption, as well as simplify procedures, improve transparency and put economic resources to better use.
The commission is tasked with the "simplification and rationalisation of the existing bodies and more careful planning of the economic activities of all the Vatican Administrations", the Vatican said in a statement on Friday.
It will offer specialist advice on how to "avoid the misuse of economic resources, to improve transparency... to work with ever greater prudence in the financial sphere; to ensure correct application of accounting principles," it said.
The Argentine pope has worked fast since his election in March to establish a series of specialist bodies to tackle corruption and poor management in the Vatican.
This latest commission, which will report directly to him, comes on the heels of the establishment of a separate body looking at how to reform the Vatican bank and the appointment of eight cardinal advisors.
The new specialists come from France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Singapore and Spain.
Francis was elected in the wake of a damaging scandal last year in which papers leaked by the then papal butler alleged corruption in the administration, with tales of bribery and personal favours as well as accusations of money laundering.
Although they did not reveal any great surprises, the secret papers lifted the lid on deep-seated venom among rival figures in the Vatican.
They revealed in particular the bitter battle between Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone and Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who had been attempting to clean up the Vatican's finances when he was removed from his post -- allegedly for cracking down on corruption.
Vigano wrote to the Pope and begged not to be punished for rooting out examples of favours, waste and financial mismanagement which set the Vatican back millions of euros in higher contract prices -- but to no avail.
Francis's reforms appear to have their roots in the leaks scandal, which created unease and exasperation among the cardinals.
The electors called on the Argentinian swiftly to clean up an institution dogged by bad governance and corruption but Francis has yet to shake up the heavily criticised Curia -- the intrigue-filled administration of the Catholic Church -- which he temporarily re-appointed en masse after his election.
The Vatican said Friday's new commission could collaborate with the Pope's cardinal advisors "in drafting a plan for the reform... of the Roman Curia".