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MILAN (ChurchMilitant.com) - In the wake of a book on the Vatican's imminent financial meltdown, two Vatican officials have denied the existence of a financial crisis while another recently discussed details of the work being done on a thorough financial reform.
Ghanaian Cdl. Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, whom Pope Francis appointed the first prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development (DPIHD) established in 2017, recently discussed the next moves the Holy See will take regarding its financial problems that made international headlines again.
At an international conference hosted by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, Italy, on Wednesday, Turkson contextualized the Vatican's current work on financial reform as a response to "the many things we have inherited from the past."
Turkson explained what the Pope wishes to do and how the Holy See is assisting: "In the Vatican, there are several ministries that manage financial investments on their own, sometimes playing against each other. Pope Francis wants to unite them and we are working on a document that will help accompany this process."
"Institutions like APSA [Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See], Propaganda Fide, Secretariat of State and IOR each decide on their own how to manage their money and often play against each other," he elaborated and restated that the Holy Father desires a merger.
Turkson explained that the merger would be for coordinating purposes: "Let's hope in the end there will not be a single organism, but certainly everyone will have to know what the other person does and do things in a coordinated way, avoiding everyone going off on his own."
The DPIHD will also prepare a kind of ethical investment guide that offers suggestions where to invest and spells out forbidden investments such as weapons and oil since the money "must serve and not dominate," said Turkson. "[W]e must focus on agriculture in poor countries and access to water to those who do not have it, things that are necessary for people's survival."
Turkson said that the "financialization of the real world is an obstacle to the growth of the world and has created opaque realities far from reality." According to him, this structure "does not serve the economy and promotes a model that leaves many behind."
Turkson ended his talk by saying people can fight back against this financialization with their wallets: "It is the wallet with which we can choose what to buy and what to not."
Turkson's remarks at the international conference on Wednesday come in the wake of a book released on Monday by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi.
In the book, Giudizio Universale (Last Judgment), Nuzzi argues that the Vatican is undergoing a financial crisis and quickly approaching financial failure due to mismanagement that covers abuse and privilege, debts, expenses and lack of income.
Bishop Nunzio Galantino, president of APSA, commented on Tuesday with implications that hype for Nuzzi's book was for sales and that there is no Vatican financial crisis:
There is only the need for a spending review. And that's what we're doing. I can prove it with numbers. The scandalous tone I read in the first advances [preview] is good for the launch of a book, [but] much less to describe a distinct and complex reality like the Church, where distinct and complex are not absolutely synonymous with secret or devious.
Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, who served as the Holy See's spokesman with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on the issue of Third World debt, also chimed in Tuesday to deny there is any Vatican financial crisis: "To say then that the Vatican is at risk of default is wrong. The Secretariat of State, among other things, also administers the expenses of the apostolic nunciatures."
Maradiaga added that headlines of Vatican financial crisis are an attempt to discredit the Church: "They want to hit the papacy: first painting [the picture of] a Church where the majority are pedophiles, [and] now showing an economic carelessness."
Nuzzi, on the other hand, described the Vatican financial crisis as a "hemorrhage," and though he thinks Pope Francis wishes to fix the situation, he does not think the Pope has the tools to do so: "The tools he has are insufficient. In my opinion, we are facing a collapse of management, the tools are old, the documents say, [and] there is a fragmentation of the competencies and inadequacies of the ruling class."
While two Vatican officials have denied that there is financial crises, another Vatican official ― Turkson ― has been explaining the steps being taken towards a much-needed and thorough financial reform based on the Vatican's clear financial problems.