Pope Francis pulls in George Pell over $700k office fitout

The Australian

FEBRUARY 28, 2015

FRUGAL Pope Francis has ­questioned Australian cardinal ­George Pell’s spending, ­according to Italy’s prestigious L’Espresso magazine.

The current affairs magazine has branded Cardinal Pell “the “Cardinal of luxury’’, claiming he last year spent half a million euros ($720,000) in six months setting up his new office after the Pope appointed him to reform Vatican finances.

It claims the Pope questioned Cardinal Pell about the cost, which included furniture, rugs, made-to-measure clothing and business-class flights.

The article, published yesterday, says the Pope was critical of an under-sink storage unit that cost €4600 and asked: “What, is it made of solid gold? Can you tell me how you managed to spend half a million euros?’’

According to the magazine, Cardinal Pell replied: “Your Holiness, trust me. I have purchased only what is needed. I know what I’m doing.’’

L’Espresso says Cardinal Pell — the former archbishop of Sydney — hired his “personal bursar’’, fellow Australian Danny Casey, on a tax-free monthly salary of €15,000.

“The monsignore wants the best for his protege,’’ the article says. “He even rented an apartment for €2900 per month in Via dei Coronari and has paid for quality furnishings for the office and the residence.’’

The bill, according to the ­report, included €33,000 for minor renovations, €7292 for “tapezzeria’’ (wallpaper or upholstery), and nearly €47,000 for furniture and wardrobes.

Mr Casey previously worked as the business manager for the Archdiocese of Sydney, organised World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney and managed the purchase and restoration of a pilgrim house, Domus Australia, in Rome. In his new Vatican position, Mr Casey is in charge of Cardinal Pell’s project management office.

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