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Letter #106: Transparency?

Friday, December 20, 2013 -- Lack of Transparency over Consultants' Pay Prompts Questions

"The pontiff who famously longs for a 'poor Church for the poor' and who rails against 'trickle-down' economics is also the Pope who's created a boom market for 'God's consultants.' Before the Francis reform is finished, there might not be a systems analyst, management expert or financial guru left on earth who doesn't have a contract in Rome... To date, no one at the Vatican has said out loud how much they're shelling out for the services of this new batch of consultants." —John Allen, Jr., Vatican correspondent for the US-based National Catholic Reporter, in an article today entitled "Thoughts on the rise of 'God's Consultants'"

In July, Pope Francis set up an 8-member commission to study the Vatican's economic and administrative structures as part of an effort to reform the Roman Curia. (The Maltese economist and businessman Joseph F.X. Zahra is head of the commission.)

Yesterday, the Vatican announced that two new contracts have been awarded to major outside firms after a "competitive bidding process," but, as veteran Vatican expert John Allen noted in an article on the news yesterday, "it did not specify how much is being paid for the firms' services." (link)

McKinsey & Company, based in the US, has been hired to outline an "integration" of the Vatican's various communications offices (Holy See Press Office; the Osservatore Romano; Vatican Radio; the Vatican Television Center; the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; Fides news service; the Vatican publishing house (in Italian, the Libreria Editrice Vaticana or LEV); and, since June 2012, an office in the Secretariat of State called "senior communications adviser" held by the American journalist Greg Burke; Vatican Radio, with dozens of employees in many different languages costs the Holy See about $30 million each year.)

And KPMG, a huge Swiss business consulting and auditing company with 152,000 employees, has been awarded a contract to advise the Holy See on how to improve its financial accounting practices.

Two other major consulting companies have already been working for the Vatican for some time:

(1) Ernst and Young, a company with 175,000 employees based in London, England (to study management and economy activity in the Government of the Vatican City State, the "Governatorato"); and

(2) Promontory Financial Group, a Washington D.C.-based company with about 400 employees (to conduct detailed reviews of client accounts for the Vatican bank and for APSA, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See; to this end, I was told, the company has been going methodically through every single Vatican bank account, transaction by transaction, since this past spring.)
The new director of the Vatican bank, Rolando Marranci, an Italian, is a former official with the Promontory Group.) [Wikipedia reports: "The company was founded in 2001 by former U.S. Comptroller of the Currency (1993−98) beneath the administration of Bill Clinton Eugene Ludwig... Former chairman of the United Kingdom Financial Services Authority Sir Callum McCarthy is non-executive chairman of Promontory Financial Group (U.K.). Former managing director of the United Kingdom Financial Services Authority Michael Foot is global vice chairman. The branch for Europe in Brussels is currently represented by Raffaele Cosimo who worked before for the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro in Rome. Elizabeth McCaul is partner-in-charge of the firm's New York office. Former executives include the deceased former Italian Minister of Economy and Finances Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, who was chairman of Promontory Financial Group Europe; and previous Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions, U.S. Treasury David Nason and Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin, who were managing directors. The ex-chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Mary Schapiro joined Promontory in April 2013 as managing director and chairman of its governance and markets practice."]

All of this is part of a general effort in the last years of Pope Benedict's pontificate and the first year of Pope Francis's papacy to bring greater clarity, efficiency and transparency to the Vatican's activities, especially in the financial area.

But no indication has been given about what all this is costing the Church.

With regard to the financial compensation the Holy See will be paying to these companies for their professional services, there has been no transparency up to now.

The impression given by Press spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., is that the costs of the latest contracts will not be very great as the consultation process will only be two or three months (link).

Still, Allen concludes: "'Transparency' has become a cornerstone of Vatican rhetoric about what this cycle of reform is intended to achieve. In that spirit, it will be interesting indeed to track the extent to which Vatican officials are willing to open up about what exactly these consultants are doing, and how much they're being paid to do it."


***Still in Time For Christmas...

Pray for Me: The Life and Spiritual Vision of Pope Francis, First Pope from the Americas, by Robert Moynihan, author of these letters, released on April 30 by Random House. Links to order the book:

1. Amazon

2. Barnes and Noble

You may also call our toll-free number at 1-800-789-9494 in the US.


Change at the Vatican Press Office?

In an article in La Repubblica today, Italian journalist Marco Ansaldo reports that there is talk in the Vatican that the Pope's spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, may, in the not-so-distant future, be replaced by another Jesuit, Father Antonio Spadaro, the editor of La Civilta Cattolica and the man who conducted the first lengthy interview with Pope Francis in August. There is no official confirmation of this report.




(Source: Vatican Radio)

"Only silence guards the mystery of the journey that a person walks with God," Pope Francis said in his homily at Mass this morning at the Domus Santa Marta.

May the Lord, the Pope added, give us "the grace to love the silence."

The Pope’s reflections were inspired by the Annunciation, today’s Gospel reading, in particular the passage in which the angel tells Mary that the power of the Most High would "overshadow” her.

The shadow has almost the same quality as the cloud with which God protected the Jews in the desert, the Pope said.

"The Lord always took care of the mystery and hid the mystery," Francis said. "He did not publicize the mystery. A mystery that publicizes itself is not Christian; it is not the mystery of God: it is a fake mystery!

"And this is what happened to Our Lady, when she received her Son: the mystery of her virginal motherhood is hidden. It is hidden her whole life! And she knew it.

"This shadow of God in our lives helps us to discover our own mystery: the mystery of our encounter with the Lord, our mystery of our life’s journey with the Lord.”

"Each of us,” the Pope said, "knows how mysteriously the Lord works in our hearts, in our souls.”

And what is "the cloud, the power, the way the Holy Spirit covers our mystery?”

"This cloud in us, in our lives, is called silence: the silence is exactly the cloud that covers the mystery of our relationship with the Lord, of our holiness and of our sins. This mystery that we cannot explain.

"But when there is no silence in our lives, the mystery is lost, it goes away.

"Guarding the mystery with silence! That is the cloud, that is the power of God for us, that is the strength of the Holy Spirit."

Pope Francis concluded: "Silence is that which guards the mystery,” and so the mystery "of our relationship with God, of our journey, of our salvation, cannot be… publicized.

"May the Lord give all of us the grace to love the silence, to seek him and to have a heart that is guarded by the cloud of silence.”


Engaged Couples, on the Feast of St. Valentine, with Pope Francis...

On February 14, 2014, there will be a meeting of engaged couples with Pope Francis in the Vatican

On February 14, 2014, feast of St. Valentine, the patron saint of lovers, Pope Francis will meet with engaged couples to celebrate “The Joy of Yes Forever.”

The initiative is promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Engaged couples who have already attended or are presently going through the courses of marriage preparation are invited to the meeting with the Holy Father, which will be held in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, at 11:00 a.m. on February 14.

For registration, no later than January 30, 2014, please visit the Diocesan Offices for the Family, or the offices of lay movements and associations, or send an email to: events@family.va.

"The Holy Father has repeatedly urged those who are in love and young married couples to live the faithful and fruitful joy that grows in holiness, as they follow the model of the Holy Family and welcome Christ into the life of their family, which is renewed each day and forever by the full and free gift of self in the sacramental love, penetrated by the grace of the Paschal Mystery," said the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, presenting the event. It will be the first official meeting of Pope Francis with engaged couples.

At the encounter with the young people of Umbria, in Assisi, on October 4, Pope Francis said: "What is marriage? It is a true and authentic vocation, as are the priesthood and the religious life. Two Christians who marry have recognized the call of the Lord in their own love story, the vocation to form one flesh and one life from two, male and female. And the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony envelops this love in the grace of God, it roots it in God himself. By this gift, and by the certainty of this call, you can continue on assured; you have nothing to fear; you can face everything together!"



"Think nothing else but that God ordains all, and where there is no love, put love, and you will draw love out." --St. John of the Cross

Sursa: www.InsideTheVatican.com

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