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Vatican shelves PwC as external auditor, keeps as consultant

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican said Friday it has shelved plans to bring in an external auditor for its consolidated financial statements but has kept PricewaterhouseCoopers on for consulting services.

The Vatican announced in December that it had hired PwC as its external auditor, part of financial czar Cardinal George Pell’s march to bring the Holy See’s finances in line with international standards.

But the Vatican suspended the contract in April after questions arose about the contract’s scope and who had signed it: Pell and the head of the Council for the Economy’s audit committee.

The Vatican said Friday only its own auditor general, Libero Milone, is legally responsible for auditing its consolidated financial statements, as with any sovereign state.

The contract has been revised, with PwC assisting Milone and other Vatican offices with consulting services.

The original suspension of the PwC contract had raised alarm about the Holy See’s commitment to reform and financial transparency. In its statement Friday, the Vatican insisted that there was no attempt to hinder reforms and that it was merely making sure correct legal procedures were being followed.

The revised contract was, however, a political setback for the Australian Pell, who has seen several of his attempts to impose his authority on traditionally independent Holy See departments thwarted. The new PwC contract specifies that individual Vatican offices can request PwC’s support, rather than have it imposed on them by Pell or the Council for the Economy.