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)
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'”
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 30by Random House. Links to order the book:
You may also call our toll-free number at 1-800-789-9494 in the US.