Vatican City, Sep 28, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).
Pope Francis appointed the first layman to lead a Vatican dicastery. He also named the first lay secretary of APSA, the Holy See’s treasury. Is he about to choose a layman as No. 2 of Vatican City State’s administration?
According to Vatican sources, the layman Giuseppe Puglisi-Alibrandi is top of the list to succeed Bishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga as secretary of the Governorate of the Vatican City State.
Vérgez served as secretary of the Vatican Governorate from 2013. Earlier this month, Pope Francis promoted him to the president of the Governorate, although he had already passed the usual retirement age of 75, granting him the title of archbishop.
Let’s suppose that the appointment of Puglisi-Alibrandi — the first consultant of the legal service of the machine that manages the Vatican City State — takes place. Vérgez will have at his side a person he knows well and with whom he has managed some particularly difficult dossiers of the Governorate.
In particular, there are two main issues.
The first is financial management. Thanks to the Vatican Museums, the Governorate is the only Vatican body to make substantial profits. But the governorate budget has generally been used to write off the “mission budget” of the Curia, which does not generate profits.
The Governorate’s budget has not been published since 2016, despite the intention to draft a consolidated budget including all Vatican entities in the future.
Fabio Gasperini, a Vatican official who was previously an Ernst & Young consultant, had also proposed an independent accounting model for the Governorate. But the administration decided to keep the production of internal financial statements firmly in its hands, developing an ad hoc computer program called Project One.
Gasperini is now No. 2 at APSA and has the task of rationalizing the administration and making APSA increasingly the Vatican’s “central bank.” In this work, he will find a strong supporter in Puglisi-Alibrandi.
The second issue is that of insurance. The Governorate has an insurance contract for its employees with the Cattolica company, which has had some economic problems. Cattolica financed a recapitalization thanks to Generali, a major Italian insurance company. The Vatican followed this recapitalization closely, given that Cattolica manages all the policies of the Governorate.
One indication of this interest is the figure of Alberto Minali, a lay member of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy.
As a former CEO of Cattolica who, before that, worked at Generali, Minali is considered a potential bridge between Cattolica and Generali. Within Cattolica, there is also a Religious Entities Business Unit, created by Piero Fusco, a broker who links the Vatican and the insurance company.
As Puglisi-Alibrandi manages the Governatorate’s insurance policies through the legal office, he also has a good relationship with Fusco, which can help solve this intricate financial issue.
Puglisi-Alibrandi, who is very close to Vérgez, would therefore be called to outline the finances of the Governorate differently, making them flow into the consolidated balance sheet of the Curia, while having an eye also for the Vatican Museums, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis.