VATICAN CITY – Former Singapore cabinet minister George Yeo has been appointed to the Vatican’s new Council for the Economy together with six other laypeople and eight cardinals.
The new council was established on Feb 24 by Pope Francis to study the policies and practices of the Holy See and devise appropriate policies and best practices. Its members were announced on March 8.
The laypeople in the group are all experts in the fields of business, management and finance.
The council is an independent “authority for policy decisions and not merely an advisory organ” to the new Secretariat for the Economy, which will have authority over all economic and administrative activities within the Holy See and Vatican City State, the Vatican announcement said.
The secretariat implements the policies determined by the council and answers directly to the pope.
The council “is a key step toward the consolidation of the current management structures of the Holy See, with the aim of improving coordination and oversight of economic and administrative matters,” said Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.
When contacted by CatholicNews, Mr Yeo, a parishioner of the Church of the Holy Family, said his appointment “is a great honour and a heavy responsibility”.
“The main task will be to help implement the new administrative and financial structure and processes of the Vatican,” he said in an email.
Mr Yeo is among five of the seven lay members of the council who are also members of the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See.
Pope Francis established this eight-person commission in July 2013 to study accounting practices among all Vatican offices and devise strategies for greater fiscal responsibility and transparency.
The head of the new council is 60-year-old German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany.
The other cardinals are: US Cardinal Daniel N DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, South African Cardinal Wilfrid F Napier of Durban, Mexican Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City, Peruvian Cardinal Juan Cipriani Thorne of Lima, French Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux, Cardinal John Tong Hon of Hong Kong and Italian Cardinal Agostino Vallini, papal vicar for Rome.
The other six lay members are: Mr Joseph Zahra, a Maltese business consultant and former director of the Central Bank of Malta; Mr Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, a French expert in business administration and asset management; Mr John F Kyle, a retired vice-president and treasurer of Exxon-Mobil’s Imperial Oil company in Canada; Mr Enrique Llano Cueto, a Spanish economist, accountant and business consultant; Mr Jochen Messemer, a German manager with experience in the health care, insurance and financial service industries; and Mr Francesco Vermiglio, an Italian expert in accounting and corporate finance.
Each member is appointed to serve a five-year term. The Vatican said the council would begin its work “immediately” and hold its first meeting in May. - CNS