Sat, Feb 28, 2015
The ghost of “Vatileaks” hung in the Vatican air yesterday following the publication by Italian news weekly, L’Espresso, of a report critical of Australian cardinal George Pell, the point man for Pope Francis in the “clean-up” of the Vatican’s finances.
L’Espresso alleges that in its first six months, the Secretariat for the Economy, an organisation established by Pope Francis to oversee the restructuring and rationalisation of the Holy See’s economic affairs, has already run up more than half a million euro in expenses.
The implication is that while Cardinal Pell, the prefect of the secretariat, has been busy preaching to the Curia about the steep and thorny path to fiscal rectitude, he himself has been treading the primrose path of dalliance.
To support these claims, L’Espresso provides an inventory of costs which include airline travel, lavish interior design renovations, job appointments and real estate rentals as well as computers and printers. In particular, it lists €2,508 worth of purchases made from Gammarelli, the clerical tailors, on behalf of the secretariat.
Furthermore, the magazine alleges that shortly after his appointment to the new secretariat, Cardinal Pell appointed Danny Casey, the former business manager to the archdiocese of Sydney, as a sort of project manager for the secretariat on a tax-free salary of some €200,000 per annum.
The secretariat also provides Mr Casey with accommodation in central Rome at a cost of €2,900 per month, while almost €90,000 was spent on renovation of the apartment.
Cardinal Pell’s travel costs come in for scrutiny, too, with L’Espresso pointing out that he spent €1,293, €1,150 and €1,238 last year on flights to London, Dresden and Munich respectively. The implication here is that the cardinal likes to travel business class. Somewhat improbably, the magazine also suggests that he likes to “buy champagne and canape for everyone”.
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