Pope announces ‘envelope culture’ crackdown at Vatican – The Guardian

Vatican employees must not accept any work-related gift worth more than €40 (£34) under new anti-corruption rules announced by Pope Francis.

The limit on the value of gifts is a crackdown on an “envelope culture” at the Vatican in which cardinals, bishops and officials have routinely accepted cash sums and other items from patrons.

The new rules also require cardinals and managers to regularly declare they have no investments in companies whose policies run counter to church doctrine.

“Faithfulness in matters of little consequence is related to faithfulness in more important ones,” the pope wrote in a legal document issued under his personal authority. The new measures were necessary to “prevent and fight, in every sector, conflicts of interest, methods of patronage, and corruption in general”, he said.

Francis has spoken about cleaning up corruption in the Vatican since becoming leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Roman Catholics eight years ago. The new law marks his biggest step yet to ensure his cardinals and managers are clean.

Under the decree, new employees must sign a declaration that they have never been convicted of a crime, nor are under investigation for offences that include money laundering, corruption, fraud, exploitation of minors or tax evasion. They will also have to declare that their assets are from legal sources, are not held in tax havens, or invested in companies whose policies are against the church’s doctrine, such as arms manufacturers.

The declaration must be reaffirmed every two years, with the risk of dismissal or a fine if someone is found to have lied. The new regulations will come into force within 90 days.

In the past eight years, Pope Francis has closed thousands of suspect accounts, fired top financial officials and sought to streamline the administration of the Holy See.

In 2017, the ex-head of a Vatican-run hospital was convicted of stealing from a foundation to renovate a cardinal’s apartment. In 2018, a former president of the Vatican bank was ordered to stand trial on charges of embezzlement and money laundering.

Two years ago, Vatican prosecutors began a corruption investigation involving the Vatican’s investment in a London real estate venture. Pope Francis said: “They have done things that do not seem clean.”

Last year, the pope forced the resignation of an Italian cardinal, Angelo Becciu, who was accused of siphoning off funds destined for the poor to family members. He denied the charge.

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Pope announces ‘envelope culture’ crackdown at Vatican – The Guardian

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