Cardinal George Pell has said he hopes the major reforms to the Roman Curia he announced on Wednesday will help prevent future scandals in the Vatican.
“Enough. Enough with these scandals,” the prefect of the new Secretariat for the Economy said in an interview in today’s Corriere della Sera. “We no longer want to have these surprises in the newspapers.
“It’s bad for the Church and for Christian teaching,” he added. “We seek to become a model for Catholics, but also for the world, for everyone.”
On Wednesday, the Australian cardinal unveiled a series of reforms which included scaling back the work of the Institute for Works of Religion (the Vatican Bank), more supervision, transparency and monitoring of Vatican finances, and the creation of a committee to advise on reforming the Holy See’s media outlets.
Cardinal Pell said he has “taken seriously” what Pope Francis has instructed him to do, and stressed that without the Pope’s support, he “could not go on.” He added that the reforms are not being hastily implemented with “waves of a magic wand”, but the “support of the Holy Father makes us persevere.”
“Proceed with perseverance. Nunc coepimus,” he said. “We have just begun. We will go forward. We still need to improve. But one thing is certain: enough of Calvi and Sindona [two notorious scandals of the past], enough of surprises that we learn in the newspapers.”
Asked to use three words to describe this process, he said financial transparency, professionalism and honesty. He also underlined the importance of the contribution of the laity. “The Church is a people, there are not only the priests, lay people enter fully, they vote, take decisions,” he said. “It is grounded on a very theological point of view. “
Questioned about possible negative reactions in the Curia to the reform, Cardinal Pell simply replied: “The greatest thing about the Cardinals is they agree.”
On accusations of de-Italianisation of the Curia, he said it already has many talented Italian staff but stressed the structures he is dealing with are those of the universal Church, not the Vicariate of Rome.
Regarding his relations with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pell said he meets him regularly. “We are not two bodies – the two poles – in the same system, but twins. I would really say we’re like two twins.”
Some have accused the Vatican of having a so-called Maltese lobby managing the Vatican’s finances. The cardinal said he doesn’t like to hear such things said about the people who work at the Vatican.
“In reality they pursue their interests,” he said. Joseph Zahra (the Maltese vice-coordinator of the Council for the Economy) “is impressive in how much he works, his abilities and strength.” For months and months, he said, “he did not want even one euro.”
Lastly, on the Holy See’s financial relations with Italy, Cardinal Pell said they “must be normalised soon” so they follow all international standards.