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Vatican’s new money man confronts ‘enormous’ reform effort

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Australian Cardinal George Pell, appointed by Pope Francis to head a new Vatican finance ministry, admitted Tuesday it will be “an enormous task” to put the Holy See’s economic affairs in order.

Pell’s appointment Monday makes him one of the most important men in the Catholic Church, charged with helping overhaul its much-criticised central administration following a wave of scandals.

The Vatican said in a statement that Pell “has been asked to start work as soon as possible” as head of the Secretariat for the Economy, a role aimed at helping the poor and increasing transparency.

The Catholic Church in Australia said he will begin his new job in March.

The ministry will prepare an annual budget as well as impose international financial standards, in line with a series of recommendations made by a group of cardinals advising the pope, including for a “more formal commitment” to enforcing transparency.

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Pell said it was a significant move in the right direction, following a series of leaks to the media in 2012 about “numerous situations of corruption and misconduct”.

“The review has highlighted that much can be achieved through improved financial planning and reporting as well as enhancements in governance, internal controls and various administrative support functions,” said Pell, who will be based in Rome.

“I am looking forward to implementing these recommendations as requested by the Holy Father.

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“I have always recognised the need for the Church to be guided by experts in this area and will be pleased to be working with the members of the new Council for the Economy as we approach these tasks,” he added.

“We need to be open to expert advice and aware of any opportunity to improve the way we conduct our financial administration.”

“It is an enormous task and it is important we embrace and implement the recommended changes as soon as practicable.”

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The new ministry will be run by a 15-member council of eight clergymen from different parts of the world and seven lay financial experts.

Francis has said he wants a style of government for the Church that is more “collegial” and less “Vatican-centric” and the process of consultation he used to reach his decision on the new ministry is seen as an example of this.

He reached outside the Church for advice, with the Vatican hiring international consultancy firms such as Ernst&Young, KPMG, Promontory and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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During the 2012 leaks, letters surfaced from Carlo Maria Vigano, the head of the Vatican governorate, who pointed to inflated costs for Vatican works contracts as an example as corruption and misconduct.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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Trump is facing massive criticism for his attacks on young women of color in Congress

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US President Donald Trump came under fire from Democrats and even some members of his own Republican Party on Monday after launching an extraordinary xenophobic attack on four progressive Democratic congresswomen.

"All they do is complain," Trump told reporters at a White House event featuring products "Made in America."

"These are people that hate our country," he said of the four lawmakers. "If you're not happy here, you can leave."

Trump also accused the four first-term congresswomen -- who are of Hispanic, Arab, Somali and African American origin -- of having "love" for US "enemies like Al-Qaeda."

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Trump’s campaign is spending massively at his own businesses — and even more on lawyers

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President Donald Trump's 2020 re-election campaign filed their latest campaign finance reports on Monday.

Anna Massoglia, a researcher at the money in politics watchdog group Open Secrets, dissected the numbers and made two startling discoveries.

In the three months covered, from April through June, Trump's campaign and affiliated joint fundraising committees spent $326,094.24 at Trump businesses, including six figures at both Mar-a-Lago and Trump Hotel DC.

Trump's campaign also spent over $1.3 million on legal bills. He spent approximately $7 million on legal bills in 2018, Massoglia noted.

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Trump is ‘one pointy white hat shy of a Klan rally’: GOP strategist Rick Wilson ripped Trump as a ‘flagrant racist’ on MSNBC

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Republican strategy ripped President Donald Trump for being a "flagrant racist" during a Monday night appearance on MSNBC.

Lawrence O'Donnell interviewed Wilson about Trump's latest nativist attacks on young women of color in Congress.

"Rick Wilson, is this a campaign strategy? Is this Donald Trump and his campaign advisers thinking, well, our only hope is going for the voters we already have and energizing them and getting them to come and squeak out that electoral formula once again?" O'Donnell asked.

"Absolutely, Lawrence. As everyone else stated on the show, it’s been obvious for a long time from the long arc of his dad to redling to the Central Park Five to birtherism to this stuff today, this guy, he's racist adjacent in of the best day of his life," Wilson is explained.

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