Pope Francis addresses members of the Tribunal of Vatican City State in the Apostolic Palace’s Hall of Blessings March 27, 2021 / Vatican Media
Pope Francis said today that the Vatican’s quest for transparency should be inspired by “the founding principles of ecclesial life” and conform to international standards.
The pope made the remark today as he opened the 92nd judicial year of the Vatican City State Tribunal in the Apostolic Palace’s Hall of Blessings.
He began his address by noting that the gilded hall is situated between St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s Square.
He said: “In this singular position one could see the meaning and the task of the Church, constituted and sent by Christ the Lord to carry out the mission of upholding the truth and — as the Second Vatican Council teaches — proclaiming, ‘even by its own example, humility and self-sacrifice,’ with God’s own style: closeness, compassion, tenderness.”
“With this mandate, the Church enters history and becomes a place of encounter among peoples and of reconciliation among men, in order to lead them, with the Word and the Sacraments, with grace and examples of life, to the faith, freedom, and peace of Christ.”
This was the second consecutive year that Pope Francis has attended the opening of the tribunal’s judicial year.
The pope said: “I exhort everyone so that the initiatives recently launched, and those to be taken, for the absolute transparency of the institutional activities of the Vatican State, especially in the economic and financial field, are always inspired by the founding principles of ecclesial life and, at the same time, take due account of the parameters and ‘best practice’ current at international level, and appear exemplary, as is imposed on a reality such as the Catholic Church.”
The pope offered the tribunal general indications for the coming year, emphasizing the need for efficiency, irreproachable behaviour, “new and more incisive forms of cooperation,” and equal treatment of all members of the Church.
He said: “I urge you to reflect on the fact that, by carrying out your hidden and patient work day after day, you offer a precious contribution so that the Church, in this tiny Vatican City State, may give a good example of what she teaches in her social magisterium.”
Gian Piero Milano, promoter of justice at the Vatican City state court, gave an opening address in which he outlined reforms over the past 12 months. Among those attending the ceremony was the Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi.
Referring to financial scandals that have rocked the Vatican recently, Milano thanked legal authorities in Italy and further afield for their cooperation in investigations.
“We would like to express our gratitude to all these subjects for their active cooperation in delicate and complex investigations still in progress, which have led to important results,” he said, adding that this cooperation was likely to continue as cases went to trial.
Milano said that despite the challenges of the pandemic and overseeing complex trials, the tribunal had completed its work without accumulating backlogs.
He highlighted the sentences that the tribunal handed down in January to former “Vatican bank” president Angelo Caloia, his lawyer, Gabriele Liuzzo, and Liuzzo’s son, Lamberto.
He said that in the past 12 months, the tribunal had issued 13 international letters rogatory: seven to Italy, two to the UK, two to the Channel Island of Jersey, and two to Slovenia.
Letters rogatory are formal requests from courts in one country to the courts of another country for judicial assistance.
He said that the tribunal had also requested the seizure of some 105 million euros ($124 million), part of which it had received and part of which remained the subject of dispute.
Milano also noted recent reforms to the laws governing the Vatican City State.
But he said: “Even with these changes, the journey of reform is far from complete. There are still gaps and inconsistencies in many sectors.”
Pope Francis ended his address by encouraging tribunal officials to dedicate time to prayer.
He said: “The language of painting and sculpture often depicts Justice intent, with one hand, to weigh opposing interests or situations with the scales, and ready, with the other hand, to defend the right with the sword.”
“Christian iconography then adds to the previous artistic tradition a detail of no small importance: the eyes of Justice are not blindfolded, but turned upwards and look at heaven, because only in heaven does true justice exist.”