Congregation for consecrated religious issues guidelines for financial management

Holy Land Franciscans outside Church of Holy Sepulchre

(CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican’s congregation for religious has released guidelines on the management of congregations, requiring them to adapt to international financial reporting standards and to verify that their financial operations align with their charisma.

The guidelines are contained in an Aug. 2 circular letter, released Tuesday, signed by the prefect and the secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz and Archbishop José Rodriguez Carballo.

The letter follows upon a Vatican symposium on religious congregations’ management of goods held in March; it aims at providing a common juridical framework for religious institutes.

The circular letter stresses that in the first place, religious congregations should commit to transparency.

“Evangelical testimony requires that works are managed in full transparency with respect for civil and canon law, and are put at the service of the many forms of poverty. Transparency is fundamental for the experience and effectiveness of the mission,” it reads.
Pope Francis w/ Franciscans of the Holy Land in Bethlehem (Fr. Peter Vasko: first row, center)
Religious congregations are asked for a clear accountability of their balance sheet, distinguishing between the balance sheet of the works and that of the communities, and establishing common rules of financial reporting for every branch of a given institute.

They are also to adopt audits to certify the veracity of these balance sheets.

In order to meet such standards, the congregations are urged to seek the help of qualified experts who are at service of the Church, including professors of relevant fields at Catholic universities.

“Transparency and reliability of patrimony and management reporting may be better achieved with the help of experts, in order to guarantee the adoption of adequate procedures, taking into account the size of the institute and of its works,” the letter reads.

The letter also recommends that institutes take a balanced approach to external consulting.

“It is necessary to avoid both extremes: on one side…”