Vatican City

Pope moves to reform Vatican ahead of Brazil trip

Francis sets up new commission after of first overseas visit

Pope moves to reform Vatican ahead of Brazil trip

(By Paul Virgo) Vatican City, July 19 - Pope Francis has moved to reform the Holy See, the Vatican said on Friday, three days before he travels to Brazil for the first overseas trip of his papacy. The Vatican said Francis, who departs for Rio de Janeiro Monday to spend a week in Brazil for World Youth Day (WYD), has set up a new commission on the economic and administrative structure of the Holy See. The pope has made reforming the Vatican's economic dealings a priority. The Argentine pontiff has adopted a modest approach, criticised priests who use expensive cars, and repeatedly focused on issues such as hunger and poverty as part of his drive to make sure Catholicism is seen to be a "poor church". Last month he set up a separate commission to oversee the Vatican's scandal-hit bank, the Institute for Religious Works (IOR). His predecessor Benedict XVI's papacy was overshadowed by his butler leaking to the media confidential church documents, which included allegations of corruption in the Vatican contracts. There has been more scandal since Francis was elected pope in March, including last month's arrest of a top prelate and former accounting chief, Nunzio Scarano, in connection with a failed attempt to fly 20 million euros of laundered money back from Switzerland to Italy. Before his arrest, Scarano had been suspended from his job as head of analytic accounts at the Holy See's asset-management agency APSA. The Vatican said the new pontifical commission will report to Francis and cooperate with the Council of Cardinals to study the organisational and economic problems of the Holy See and to draft reforms of its institutions. The papal document that launched the commission said it would "offer the technical support of specialist advice and develop strategic solutions for improvement, so as to avoid the misuse of economic resources, to improve transparency in the processes of purchasing goods and services; to refine the administration of goods and real estate; to work with ever greater prudence in the financial sphere; to ensure correct application of accounting principles; and to guarantee healthcare and social security benefits to all those eligible". Seven members of the Commission are lay experts in legal, economic, financial and organisational matters who come from Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Malta and Singapore. The only clergyman is the commission's secretary. The first meeting of the commission is scheduled for shortly after Francis returns from Brazil. Over a million visitors are expected to go to Rio and sites in the area for World Youth Day, a biennial event designed to inspire passion in the Catholic faith among young people in a time of increasing secularism. The Vatican said this week that it was aware there is a possibility of demonstrations and social unrest during Francis's time in Brazil, after anti-poverty and -corruption protests overshadowed last month's Confederations Cup soccer tournament in the country last month. But Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the pontiff was not worried about this and would not be using a bullet-proof popemobile during the trip. "We are going with total peace of mind, knowing that these events do not have anything specific against the Pope or the Church and having total confidence in the ability of the Brazilian authorities to handle the situation," Lombardi said. The pope will depart from Rome's Ciampino Airport early on Monday and arrive in Rio at around 4pm. The welcoming ceremony will take place an hour later in the gardens of the Guanabara Palace, seat of the state's government, where Francis will be greeted by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Francis will then have two days rest to recover from jet lag in a residence, where he will stay in an room like this used by ordinary priests. On Wednesday July 24, he will travel by helicopter to the shrine of Aparecida where he will celebrate Mass. He will then return to Rio in the evening and visit the St. Francis of Assisi of the Providence of God Hospital. On Thursday, 25 July, he will take part in the World Youth Day welcoming ceremony on Copacabana beachfront. On Friday, 26 July the pope will hear the confession of some youth people participating in the WYD ahead of a Via Crucis procession along Copacabana beachfront later in the day. On Saturday, 27 July, the WYD will officially open with a Mass celebrated with the bishops and with priests and seminarians in Rio de Janeiro's St Sebastian Cathedral ahead of a prayer vigil at the Campus Fidei field. On Sunday, 28 July, the Pope will celebrate Mass for the 28th WYD at the Campus Fidei. A farewell ceremony will take place at the Galeao-Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport before the pope's return to Rome, with his flight set to land in the Italian capital on Monday, 29 July, at around 11:30 local time.

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