Pope Francis cracks a whip on corrupt officials in Vatican, bans “oversize” gifts

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No gift valued over 40 Euros will be presented to Vatican employees according to Pope Francis's newly issued decree; Courtesy Photo

In his latest move to stamp out corruption in the Vatican, Pope Francis on Thursday issued a new decree mandating full economic disclosure and controls for managers, including cardinals.

The decree says all Vatican employees must no longer accept work-related gifts worth over 40 Euros, cannot use tax havens, or hold real estate obtained with funds from illegal activity.

They also must disclose, at the moment of appointment and every two years after that, if they have been the subject of financial investigations.

Pope Francis announces new anti-corruption rules for top officials as part of his drive to clean up the Vatican following a series of scandals, Reuters reported. In an interview published on Friday, Pope Francis said that he is determined to root out corruption in the Catholic Church but “not overly optimistic” because it is a centuries-old human problem.

The new crackdown follows another decree issued last year in which the pope tightened the rules for procurement contracts by Vatican departments.

The signers will have to declare that they do not hold, even through third parties, investments or stakes in companies listed as being at high-risk for money laundering.

They also cannot hold shares or other interests in companies whose policies are contrary to the Church’s social doctrine. This was an apparent reference to pharmaceutical companies and those which severely damage the environment.

The pope said employees 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”.

In a shock move last month, Francis fired Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a former top Vatican official, accusing him of embezzlement and nepotism. Becciu, who also has been caught up in a scandal involving the Vatican’s purchase of a luxury building in London, has denied all wrongdoing.

The pontiff said he is determined to fight corruption because it is in his mandate.

“I know I have to do it (fight corruption), I was called to do it, but it will be the Lord to decide if I did well or not. Sincerely, I am not very optimistic,” Francis said, smiling.

“Unfortunately corruption runs in cycles. It repeats itself. Someone comes along who cleans things up but it starts again until someone else comes along to put an end to this degeneration,” he said.

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