Pope Francis steps up battle against corruption inside the Vatican

Pope Francis delivers his Urbi et Orbi blessing, after celebrating Easter Mass at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 4, 2021.
Pope Francis delivers his Urbi et Orbi blessing, after celebrating Easter Mass at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 4, 2021. © REUTERS

Pope Francis on Thursday issued a new anti-corruption decree requiring Vatican managers, including cardinals, to sign a declaration attesting they are not being investigated or have not been found guilty of offences including terrorism, money-laundering, fraud, exploitation of minors or tax evasion.


The new regulations are part of the pope’s long battle against corruption since his election in 2013, and include full economic disclosure and controls for all managers working for the city state, including cardinals.  

They will be required to sign a declaration when they are appointed or hired for the job, attesting that they have never been convicted of a crime. Every two-years the declaration will need to be signed again.

Vatican managers will also have to declare they are investing funds in companies that are consistent with the Catholic Church’s social doctrine. The decree also states that they will not be allowed to use tax havens or accept any work-related gifts that are worth more than 40 euros. They must also not hold real estate obtained with illegal funds. 

Last May, Pope Francis issued another decree in efforts to make tender processes more transparent and tightening the rules on Vatican departments seeking to secure contracts.

But the pope’s latest anti-corruption crackdown is the toughest since he took office eight years ago.

European report expected

For the past two years prosecutors have been investigating allegations of corruption in a Vatican investment into a London property deal. The Vatican has been involved in numerous financial scandals and the pope has made clear he would battle corruption from the outset of his pontificate. 

Pope Francis has spoken out about the issue of corruption on many occasions. He has said these cases are apparent not only in politics but in all institutions including the Vatican.  

The pope’s new decree made clear that Vatican employees must adhere to "internationally accepted regulations and best practices” that require transparency to fight "conflicts of interest, patronage practices and corruption in general”.  

Moneyval, the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe Committee that evaluates countries’ anti-money laundering measures and the financing of terrorism, is expected to publicly release its report soon. It will be assessing the Holy See’s adherence to combat those practices and whether it can be included in its “white list”.

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