After serving two years as Auditor General for the Holy See, Dr. Libero Milone presented a request for his resignation to the pope.
The Holy See Press Office published a brief press release on June 20, 2017: “Yesterday Dr. Libero Milone presented to the Holy Father his resignation from the office of Auditor General, which the Holy Father accepted. By mutual agreement, the relationship of collaboration between Dr. Milone and the Holy See is thus concluded. Wishing Dr. Milone every success in his future activity, the Holy See announces that the process for appointing a new head of the Office of the Auditor General will be undertaken as soon as possible.”
Libero Milone is a 68-year-old Italian layman. He was chosen by Pope Francis in 2014 for a brand new position: Auditor General of the Holy See’s finances. The position was created by the Argentinian pope to ensure the annual auditing of the different dicasteries of the Roman Curia and the institutions connected with the Holy See. The decision came as part of the reform for greater financial transparency after the revelations of the “Vatileaks” scandal in 2012.
Libero Milone had worked for over thirty years on the auditing committee and the board counsel for Deloitte, where he worked as human resources directorr before becoming the managing director for Italy. At Pope Francis’ request, this accountant, who was known for his competency, accepted to take the job for what was initially supposed to be a five-year mandate. Australian Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and member of the Council of Cardinals in charge of reforming the curia, made a point of explaining in 2014 that the Auditor General would be completely independent in order to fulfill his mission successfully. He was directly under the pope’s authority and free to investigate anywhere within Vatican City State. His credentials granted him “full autonomy and independence”, including the possibility of taking any infractions he might discover to the judicial authorities. He had a team of 12 collaborators under him.
Shortly after moving into the Vatican, the Auditor General filed a complaint with the Vatican Police for an attempt to pirate his computer system. Several leaks in the press led to the arrest of two members of the commission on the economic structure of the Holy See, Msgr. Vallejo Balda and a lay woman, Francesca Chaouqui.
More recently, it would seem that Libero Milone was not able to access all the sectors placed under his responsibility, notably the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), that manages all the Vatican’s real estate.
According to the Italian press last May, a letter cosigned by Cardinal Pell and the Auditor General was sent to all the dicasteries, asking them to pay no heed to the letters from APSA that demanded that all financial documentation be transmitted only to the Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) office.
APSA, wrote Cardinal Pell and Libero Milone, “had no authority or prerogative to ask Holy See or Vatican bodies to submit to audits or to send any internal information to the outside agency PwC or any other firm”.
Thanks to its director, Cardinal Domenico Calcagno – former bishop of Savona created cardinal by Benedict XVI and a close friend of the former Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone who had him nominated for the position – APSA had obtained Pope Francis’ agreement to roll back part of his reforms on Vatican finances, thus limiting Libero Milone’s field of action. This sort of disavowal just may be the explanation for this sudden resignation.
The press did not fail to recall the circumstances that led to the dismissal of the Italian banker Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, president of the IWR (Institute for the Works of Religion), on May 24, 2012. Is there any reason to wonder at the current tensions within the curia?
Doctrine and morals are not the only domains in need of some clarity.