Pell spending splurge 'alienated cardinal from pope'

Pope Francis and Cardinal Pell in 2015

 VATICAN CITY - A spending splurge by Cardinal George Pell, the head of the Vatican's finances, contributed to his losing the confidence of Pope Francis as he was charged in Australia for alleged involvement in a sex abuse scandal, Vatican sources say.

 In his role as cardinal-prefect for the Secretariat for the Economy, he spent €1,103 euros on first-class flights to London, €1,238 to Monaco, €4,600 for a bathroom washbasin, and €47,000 to redecorate his office, according to journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi’s book Avarizia. 

 Back in October 2015, the pontiff emphasised an official rule in a letter to his trusted Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, which stated that the purchases of individual Dicasteries (Vatican departments) must be authorised by the Secretary of State.

 Pell had also faced disagreements with Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, head of the Vatican's central bank, APSA (Amministrazione del Patrimonio della Sede Apostolica), which administers the Vatican's real estate and financial holdings. The latter informed other Vatican offices in May that they should report their finances to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the official firm working with the Vatican.

 Both Libero Milone, the General Auditor of the Accounts, and Pell, responded by saying officially that this was their responsibility and not that os PwC. Milone also resigned last week three years before the end of his term. 

 Vatican commentators have told Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano that the Vatican’s “economic reform can finally start without Pell”. Pell is due in court in Melbourne July 18.