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Vatican signs new contract with external financial auditor

The local offices building of PricewaterhouseCoopers is seen in Luxembourg, April 26, 2016. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

VATICAN (RNS) The Vatican has signed a new deal with international accountants, weeks after the unprecedented audit of the Holy See’s finances came to an abrupt halt.

PricewaterhouseCoopers will advise the city-state’s auditor general, the Vatican said on Friday (June 10).

Resumption of PwC’s work comes almost two months after the original audit was suspended. The surprise decision earlier this year followed great fanfare in December when the Vatican announced its first external audit would take place, a move that had been hailed as a new era of transparency in the traditionally secretive Vatican.

The Vatican on Friday denied there were any internal battles or attempts to derail the financial overhaul.

“It is important to clarify that, contrary to what has been reported by some sources, the suspension was not due to considerations regarding the integrity or the quality of PwC’s work, nor is it attributable to the desire of one or more entities of the Holy See to hinder reforms,” the Vatican said in a statement.

The new framework does however appear to lessen the power of PwC within the city walls, with the firm described as having “an assisting role” to the Vatican’s own auditor general and being on hand to support the numerous administrative departments known as the Roman Curia.

“This agreement permits all of the entities of the Holy See to participate more actively in the reforms under way,” the Vatican said.

The decision to audit the Vatican accounts followed the publication of two books that revealed widespread mismanagement at the heart of the Catholic Church. In publishing secret documents and transcripts of conversations, the authors also portrayed strong opposition within the Curia to Pope Francis’ reform drive.

The journalists behind the publications, Emiliano Fittipaldi and Gianluigi Nuzzi, are currently on trial at the Vatican along with three others for leaking confidential information.

(Rosie Scammell is RNS’s Vatican correspondent)

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