Pope Francis orders audit of church’s wealth and spending

Pope Francis, galvanised by a scandal over Vatican finances, has ordered the most powerful bodies in the city-state to launch an unprecedented audit of its wealth and crackdown on runaway spending.

Pope Francis orders audit of church’s wealth and spending

At the suggestion of his economic chief, Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis has set up a “Working-Party for the Economic Future” which brings together the Secretariat of State, or prime minister’s office, the Vatican Bank and other agencies, said Danny Casey, director of Cardinal Pell’s office at the Secretariat for the Economy, said.

The pope’s initiatives come as five people stand trial in the Vatican over the leak of confidential documents in two books published last month that described corruption, mismanagement and wasteful spending by church officials.

Those on trial deny wrongdoing.

The working group, which held its first meeting last week, will study measures to cut costs and raise revenue as part of a long-term financial plan.

“This will include comparing actual expenditure against budgets at a consolidated level, which is a new initiative,” Mr Casey said.

Officials will appoint one of the world’s top-four accounting firms to review the Church’s processes.

Assets that would never be sold, including St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and priceless art treasures by Michelangelo, will be included in financial statements.

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