St. Peter's Basilica St. Peter's Basilica 

Pope makes Vatican foundations subject to control of Curia’s economic bodies

Pope Francis issues a Motu Proprio concerning entities established within curial institutions and hitherto enjoying a certain administrative autonomy, extending the new regulations also to entities based in the Vatican City State.

By Andrea De Angelis

“The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones.”

Pope Francis quotes Lk 16:10 at the start of the Motu Proprio released on Tuesday concerning instrumental juridical persons, including funds, foundations and entities that refer to the Holy See, and are registered in the list referred to in Article 1 § 1 of the Statute of the Council for the Economy, and having their headquarters in Vatican City State.

Control and supervision

"Although these entities have a formally separate juridical personality and a certain administrative autonomy, it must be recognized," the Pope says, "that they are instrumental in the realization of the ends proper to the curial institutions at the service of the ministry of the Successor of Peter and that, therefore,  unless otherwise stated  by the norms establishing them in some way, they too are public entities of the Holy See."

Therefore, since their temporal goods are part of the patrimony of the Apostolic See, “it is necessary”, the Motu proprio reads, “that they be subject not only to the supervision of the Curial Institutions  from which they depend, but also to the control and surveillance of the Economic Bodies of the Roman Curia.”

In this way, instrumental juridical persons will be "clearly distinguished from other foundations, associations and nonprofit entities" that are "born from the initiative of private individuals and are not instrumental to the realization of the ends proper to the Curial Institutions."

Existing instrumental juridical persons will have to comply with the provisions of the Motu Proprio within three months of its entry into force, which is scheduled to begin on Dec. 8, 2022.

The role of the Secretariat for the Economy

The Motu Proprio consists of eight articles. The third deals with supervision and control in economic and financial matters, establishing that the Secretariat for the Economy exercises supervision and control over instrumental juridical persons in accordance with its statutes and, within its competence, adopts or recommends the adoption by instrumental juridical persons of  appropriate measures for the prevention and combating of criminal activities.

The fourth and fifth articles regulate accounting records and the exchange of information, stipulating, among other things, that instrumental legal persons must submit the budget and the final financial statements to the Secretariat for the Economy within the deadlines set by the same Secretariat, and providing that the Secretariat for the Economy and the Office of the Auditor General may always access accounting records, supporting documents, and information on financial transactions.

Article 6 deals with the dissolution and devolution of assets, and specifies how instrumental a juridical person is  suppressed and placed in liquidation by decree of the curial institution  from which it canonically depends, when  its  purpose has been fulfilled or it has become impossible or contrary to the law, or, in the case of associations, when the reduction in the number of their associates prevents their functioning.

In view of the need to provide an organic and up-to-date discipline to legal persons based in the Vatican, the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State also promulgated a law - which enters into force on 8 December 2022 – that extends the application of the Motu Proprio to entities of the Vatican City State.

However, curial institutions and offices of the Roman Curia, institutions connected with the Holy See, the Governorate of Vatican City State, and entities professionally engaged in activities of a financial nature are excluded from the scope of the law. These measures are in line with the reforms outlined by Pope Francis in the Apostolic Constitution Predicate Evangelium.

Thank you for reading our article. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to our daily newsletter. Just click here

06 December 2022, 12:14