Francis X. Rocca has a long piece at the Wall Street Journal about Cardinal Pell and his Secretariat for the Economy, recognizing what we’ve been saying for a while: the Pope’s financial reforms have not been going well. But Rocca provides some of the background to the Pope’s gradual withdrawal of authority from Cardinal Pell and the Secretariat, following some lightning reforms early in his pontificate:
In a series of moves over about 18 months, Francis stripped Cardinal Pell of control over APSA’s real-estate holdings. He declined to approve his recommendations to reorganize the management of the financial portfolio. He wrote and made public a pointed letter making clear that all hiring and transfer of personnel required the approval of the office of Cardinal Parolin. The audit was scrapped, and in July, he took away most of the management functions—for payroll, payment and procurement services—and restored them to APSA.
“When a new administrative body is created, it always takes a while until it fits into the broader organization,” said Vatican spokesman Greg Burke. “We shouldn’t be distracted by the noise.”
(Emphasis supplied.) Part of this is the usual clamor about Cardinal Pell, who is seen as a conservative. Robert Mickens, formerly of The Tablet (as some of our readers may recall), and Andrea Tornielli are quoted for context. Big surprise.
But Rocca provides some interesting information:
The real-estate move and plans for the investments raised hackles at APSA and other offices.
APSA’s president, Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, has developed a strong relationship with Francis, who over time has become more connected to insiders at the Vatican. The two frequently eat together in the dining hall at the Vatican guesthouse, where the pope lives.
Cardinal Calcagno declined to comment on Cardinal Pell’s remarks about APSA, saying only that he was “disconcerted” by the statements.
The Secretary of State also controlled extensive investments, and the powers of Cardinal Parolin over hiring and spending were under threat.
Then the pope started paring Cardinal Pell’s powers.
(Emphasis supplied.) Read the whole thing there.