VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis' finance minister is on the move, literally.
Four months after he raised eyebrows by taking up residence in the Vatican bank, Cardinal George Pell is moving out and into the permanent offices of his new economy secretariat.
The move coincides with a major reorganization of the Vatican's financial structures ordered by Pope Francis as part of his reform of the Vatican's administration. It also removes any impression of Pell's direct authority over the bank, which is governed by a separate commission of cardinals who report to the pope.
Francis tapped the straight-talking Australian to bring order and efficiency to the Vatican's complicated finances. Pell has promised a new era of transparency, budgeting accountability and internationally accepted accounting standards, and has been given broad oversight powers.
But he has ruffled feathers within the Vatican, and some saw his decision to move into the vacant, spacious presidents' office of the Vatican bank as a symbolic assertion of control over the institution. Vatican reporter Andrea Tornielli noted that Pell's presence in the bank might have led to confusion about who really ran the show there, he or the cardinals' commission.
A spokesman for Pell confirmed Tuesday that he was moving out but said it was a decision taken months ago, not because of concerns from the pope or the cardinals' commission.
In a statement, the spokesman said the move will enable Pell to more closely and efficiently work with the rest of his staff, which had been housed in a tower on the opposite end of the Vatican gardens.
According to new statutes that went into effect last month, Pell's Secretariat for the Economy is absorbing part of the Vatican office that administers the Holy See's financial assets and is moving into those offices in the Apostolic Palace.
"Office moves were planned months ago and the timing is now right, particularly given the recent promulgation of the statutes, new nominations and the need to relocate some staff from the tower" because of recent water damage, it said.
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