The Prefecture of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See is the Dicastery in charge of the economic policy and planning, as well as of the supervision and control of the Administrations of the Holy See or those that make reference to it, as shown in the attached table, whatever their autonomy may be (see Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 176).
1. draws, according to circumstances, the document of economic policy and planning in which the objectives to be jointly pursued by the administrations are indicated;
2. periodically shows the main macro-economic parameters of reference to be used by the Entities to draft their annual budgets.
- examines the reports on the patrimonial and economic status of the Administrations mentioned in art.1. These reports are attached to the annual budgets and financial statements;
- checks the financial statements, the accounting records and the relevant documentation of each administration through controls to be executed even in situ;
- draws up the consolidated budgets and financial statements of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State and submits them to the Superior Authority for approval within a fixed date (see art. 32 of these Regulations);
- guarantees that the balance sheets are drawn up in such a way as to clearly show the patrimonial, economic and financial status of the Entities. For this purpose, this office arranges the Regulations to properly draft the balance sheets of the Entities of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State, as well as the models of profit and loss account and the statement of assets and liabilities, including the details on the main items, useful for the consolidation process;
- exercises the supervision on the Entities mentioned in Art. 1 in order to have a real, complete knowledge of their legal, patrimonial, administrative and fiscal status. The Prefecture can ask the single Entities to produce some papers, if need be;
- expresses, for the Superior Authorities’ approval, a grounded opinion on extraordinary transactions and on alienations for values higher than a certain amount;
- investigates possible damage caused to the patrimony of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State in whatever manner so that the involved Entity could take the necessary measures, even bringing a penal or civil action before the competent courts.
The Prefecture, within its competences, can give instructions and directions (see Ap. Const. Pastor Bonus, art. 15).
In the course of its duties, the Prefecture promotes the collaboration among the Dicasteries, also through meetings, in order to study, examine and assess together substantial facts concerning the administrative and financial management (see Ap. Const. Pastor Bonus, art. 21).
The activity of supervision and control is carried out within a relationship of active cooperation between the Administrations and the Prefecture, especially by means of:
- an analysis aimed at verifying the correct book-keeping and custody of the relevant documents;
- an analysis of the internal procedures;
- a management analysis of the activities of the Entities mentioned in Art. 1;
- an analysis aimed at ensuring a precise and regular acquisition and custody of important legal documents, concerning each Entity, its assets and activities;
- the identification of the documents subject to prior check, as far as the Entities mentioned in Art. 1 are concerned;
Similarly, the following control is realized by monitoring the operations concerning the activities and the assets of the Entities mentioned in Art. 1 and it is expressed through grounded opinions and recommendations, in addition to a value judgment.
The activity of this Dicastery is regulated not only by the Code of Canon Law and the Apostolic Constitution “Pastor Bonus”, but also by the General Regulations of the Roman Curia, the Regulations for the preparation of the balance sheets of the Holy See’s Entities, drafted by this Prefecture (10 October 1997), and, finally, by the current Regulations.
When the Apostolic See falls vacant, the Prefecture is required to provide the last consolidated financial statements of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State as well as the budgets of the current year (see Ap. Const. Pastor Bonus, art. 171 § 2).
Management and personnel
§ 1. The Prefecture is presided over by a Cardinal President, assisted by a board of Cardinals, with the help of the Prelate Secretary and the Accountant General, as well as the Consultants’ advice (see Ap. Const. Pastor Bonus, art. 3 and 177). All of these are appointed by the Holy Father for five years.
§ 2. The Prefecture offers its collaboration through a suitable number of Officials (see Ap. Const. Pastor Bonus, art. 3).
The Plenary Assembly deals with the most important affairs and with other issues involving general topics (see Ap. Const. Pastor Bonus, art. 11 § 2).
The President governs the Prefecture, guides its activity and acts in its name. (see Ap. Const. Pastor Bonus, art. 4).
When he considers it proper, the President confers with the Congress which is composed of the Secretary, the Accountant General, the Head Clerk and, if need be, some Consultants, especially to express the Prefecture’s opinion on the approval of the balance sheets and the documents submitted to auditing.
The Prelate Secretary, following the President’s directions and in accordance with him, coordinates various services, dispatches the office’s businesses, supervises the observance of the current Regulations and the personnel’s discipline.
The Accountant General assists the Secretary in the fulfilment of the office’s businesses, is responsible for the examination of the balance sheets and the relevant issues and can be called to the temporary replacement of the Secretary, in case of his absence or impediment.
The permanent employees working at the Prefecture are hired according to the functional needs of this Dicastery, within the limits of the organization chart, in conformity with the General Regulations of the Roman Curia. In order to review and, if necessary, change the organization chart, the General Regulations of the Roman Curia must be followed.
If need be, the President can hire accountants or other temporary personnel with short-term contracts in accordance with the General Regulations of the Roman Curia.
The permanent personnel is divided in ten functional levels, according to the organization chart, on the basis of the tasks actually performed, with proportional salaries.
Auditors and Assistant Auditors are required to have a degree in Economics and a diploma in accounting and commercial matters, respectively.
The Prefecture avails itself of the collaboration of Consultants, Experts and International Auditors. They are selected according to the criteria of competence and universality and offer their work for free.
Consultants and Experts offer their assistance, when requested, by expressing one opinion on financial, real estate, legal, tax and entrepreneurial matter.
Experts are entrusted, each time, by the President to express their opinion on matters that require special expertise and professionalism.
The International Auditors, five in number, are professional people with special knowledge in auditing and balance sheets analysis, appointed by the Holy Father for three years. The appointment is renewable up to the third term.
The International Auditors meet at least twice a year, both to apply what stated in art. 31 of the Regulations and to give opinions on other matters submitted to them by the President.
In order to fulfil the institutional obligations mentioned in art. 3, the Administrations have to send to the Prefecture their budgets and financial statements as well as possible updated forecasts, if required, according to the approved calendar.
These balance sheets, undersigned by the Chairman of the Entity and the person responsible for the accounting, must be accompanied by a report which properly explains both the most significant management operations and the reasons for the most relevant changes, compared to the previous year. The report on the financial statement is intended to clarify also the reasons for the changes in the budget. If collegial bodies of management and control are involved, a copy of the minutes of these bodies’ approval must be attached to the balance sheets as well.
The balance sheets must be drafted according to the provided Regulations (10 October, 1997). The forecasts must be prepared also on the basis of the criteria established by the Prefecture (art. 2).
The Prefecture expresses a competent judgement on the budgets (including possible updates) and on the financial statements of each Administration, as well as on the documents attached to them, in order to receive the Superior Authorities’ approval.
On the basis of the balance sheets of the Entities that are included in the consolidation area, as well as those of the Vatican City State, the Prefecture drafts the general consolidated balance sheets of the Holy See as well as those of the Vatican City State.
Even in the drafting of the consolidated financial statements, the Prefecture is allowed to request additional documents considered to be useful and to control the documentation and the accounting records in situ, with the assistance of the managers of each Administration.
The consolidated financial statements and the budgets of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State are presented to the International Auditors to be assessed.
After the evaluation of the International Auditors, the consolidated budgets and financial statements are examined by the Plenary Congregation of the Prefecture and then submitted to the Holy Father’s approval, through the Secretary of State.
Applications involving acts to be examined (art. 3, n. 6), together with relevant documentation, have to be submitted to the Prefecture at least one month before their implementation. After this examination, a judgement is formulated and forwarded to the Administration concerned.
§ 1. Investigations about the damage caused to the Patrimony of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State, mentioned in art.3, sub-paragraph 7, can be carried out as a result of office inspections or documented charge.
§ 2. On the basis of the results of the investigations, the Prefecture draws up a well-grounded report so that the Superior Authority can authorize the Entity concerned to take possible legal actions, whether civil or penal, at the competent courts.