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Pope Francis issues decree implementing new Vatican-wide anti-corruption policies

Pope Francis issued a new decree last week mandating full economic disclosure for Vatican managers, including cardinals, and stipulating that no one can accept personal gifts worth more than 40 euros, which is equivalent to about 49 US dollars.

The decree followed another papal law from last May in which Pope Francis tightened rules for Vatican procurement contracts. Gift-giving among Catholic clerics has been the source of several Church scandals in recent years. In 2019, an investigation by the U.S. Church found that now-former bishop Michael J. Bransfield of West Virginia had sent personal checks totaling more than $350,000 to about 140 fellow clerics over more than a decade. The investigation found him responsible for sexual harassment and financial improprieties, but he denied any wrongdoing.

One of the Vatican cardinals who had received gifts from Bransfield returned the money, while the other said that he had given it to charities. Last year, a Vatican report into former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick showed that he had regularly given cash gifts to fellow clergymen, including Vatican officials, over several decades. McCarrick was expelled from the priesthood in 2019 after an internal investigation found him guilty of sexual abuse of both adults and minors as well as abuse of power.

The 40 euro limit on gifts will apply to all Vatican employees of any level. The decree states that managers must disclose at the moment of appointment and every two years after that if they have been the subject of financial investigations. It also states that they cannot use tax havens or own real estate purchased with funds from illegal activity, according to Reuters. The Pope said that staff must adhere to “internationally accepted regulations and best practices” requiring transparency from those holding key roles in order to combat “conflicts of interest, patronage practices and corruption in general.”

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ARTICLE: CHLOE CHANDLER

POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: AMERICAN MAGAZINE

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