Death, Promotion and Corruption

Death, Promotion and Corruption

Strictly speaking, the Roman curia is the ensemble of departments or ministries which assist the sovereign pontiff in the government of the Universal Church. These are the Roman Congregations, the tribunals, and the offices of Curia (Ufficii di Curia).

Corruption undermines the dignity of the person and shatters all good and beautiful ideals. All of society is called upon to make a concrete commitment to combat the cancer of corruption which, with the illusion of quick and easy profits, in reality impoverishes everyone.

— Pope Francis

BEFORE anything else, let me express my deepest sadness in the passing of one of the pillars of entertainment and lifestyle reportage — Philippine Star editor Ricky Lo.

We actually never met but as a struggling writer and columnist, I laud his achievements that far outweigh his awards and popularity. Though I never did shake his hands and exchange friendly banter, Boss Ricky is one writer I have tried to emulate since I idolize the way he writes and advanced our profession as journalists and members of the Fourth Estate.

We bid adieu . . .

SETTING the sadness aside, we now have a new PNP chief in the person of our brother-general Guillermo Lorenzo Tolentino Eleazar, whom we met when he was district director of QCPD.

This time, we now have an experienced and able officer as steward of the country’s national police force. But more than that, what we praise our brother-general is that he is truly a gentleman and an officer.

Congratulations and kudos, mi heneral!

THERE is no place on earth where corruption does not exist–even the Vatican, which is said to be the seat of Catholicism and Christianity has its own woes as there members of the clergy, the school of cardinals and even a number of popes who had been or are corrupted by worldly desires and temptation.

Just recently, Pope Francis issued a new decree on financial management at the Vatican in what is being touted as a further step in his fight against corruption inside the church.

The new text, which was issued on April 29 in the form of a motu proprio (meaning “at his own initiative”), imposes measures to ensure financial transparency at all levels of the Holy See.

But what exactly does this new motu proprio actually contain?

So much like the statement of assets, liabilities, and net (SALN) worth among our public officials and government employees, one of the rules now forwarded by the Pope is requiring all Roman curia officials—from the prefects of dicasteries to the vice-directors—to complete, as soon as they take office, a declaration of interests.

In the new rule, the said officials in the Vatican must attest, in particular, to never having been convicted in any country and to not have benefited from any system of amnesty or prescription.

The motu proprio explicitly states that all curia heads, ‘including cardinals’, will also have to promise not to be the subject of any ongoing criminal proceedings for corruption, fraud, terrorism, money laundering or exploitation of minors.

Financially, they will also be prohibited from holding, “even through a third party,” any interests “in companies and businesses, in countries included in the list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes,”

They will also have to ensure that they have no property—movable or immovable—through an illicit activity. Declaration must be renewed every two years. More broadly, they will also be prohibited from having any “shareholdings or interests in companies or firms operating for purposes and in sectors contrary to the social doctrine of the church,”

Officials will be required to update and sign the declaration of interests every two years with the Vatican’s secretariat for the economy having the authority to verify the truthfulness of such declarations and will keep a record of all information. Those who are found to be withholding or providing incorrect information may be removed from office.

However, the pope’s new decree does not only concern the heads of the roman curia because Francis has expressed his desire to even go further by fighting against a form of corruption that is sometimes called ‘grey corruption’, which has been described as a type of borderline or minor corruption.

“Corruption can also occur in different ways and forms in sectors other than procurement,” Francis explained in the introduction to his decree, and to this end, all members of the curia, employees of Vatican city and those of all bodies associated with it will now be prohibited from “accepting or soliciting, for themselves or for persons other than the institution

In which they work, by reason or on the occasion of their office, gifts, presents or other benefits of a value greater than forty Euros.”

Vatican insiders said that the pope’s new rules are actually very similar to those that govern many public administrations around the world.

The pontiff set the maximum value for accepting a gift without declaring it at €150 for the French national assembly, €250 for Italian parliamentarians, €50 for European commission officials and €276 for the US senior administration officials.

As for the declarations of interests, they are, in many countries, made public and it is a degree of transparency to which the pope obviously did not wish to go.

“Being honest is hard: the more responsibilities you have, the harder it is,” Francis pointed out.

But in the Vatican, where secrecy taints all exchanges, this is a cultural revolution in many ways.

“We are experiencing the last moments of a world closed in on itself,” a curia official, who requested anonymity, stated about a few weeks ago.

“Reasonable accommodation is no longer the order of the day. This is the end of an era, which began a few years ago with the end of the distribution of cash envelopes. More broadly, it asks us about our relationship to money,” the same official concluded. (AI/MTVN)

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