Pope Francis Names Lay Finance Expert as Secretary of Vatican ‘central bank’

Credit: Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Pope Francis Monday appointed Fabio Gasperini, an Italian financial adviser working at Ernst & Young, to the second-ranking position at the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA).

This is the first time in its history that the secretary of APSA will be a layperson. Gasperini fills the position following the end of the five-year term of Msgr. Mauro Rivella in April.

Gasperini is well known in the banking and finance world, with 25 years’ experience advising financial services institutions across a broad range of areas, from retail banking to asset management, investment banking, insurance, and capital markets.

For 16 years, he has been president of financial business advisory services at Ernst & Young, one of the largest professional services firms in the world.

CNA first reported Gasperini’s possible appointment June 12. 

Very early in his career, after graduating from Rome's La Sapienza University with a degree in business economics and commerce, Gasperini worked in the administration of Vatican City State.

APSA, which operates like the Vatican’s central bank, oversees real estate holdings and other sovereign assets.

Bishop Nunzio Galantino is president of APSA. In addition to Secretary Gasperini, there is an undersecretary, an official for management control, and 13 offices and services. 

APSA has around 95 employees and 10 collaborators, as well as a commission of eight cardinals who work alongside the president. Pope Francis recently appointed Cardinal Daniel Sturla, archbishop of Montevideo, to the commission to replace Cardinal Agostino Vallini, who has turned 80 and is no longer eligible to hold a curial position.

In June 2019, APSA’s councilor Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta was charged with the sexual abuse of two seminarians in his former Diocese of Orán in Argentina. The previous January, the Vatican said Zanchetta had been suspended from his APSA position.

On June 15, a Vatican spokesman confirmed to CNA that Zanchetta has returned to his job at APSA, despite the ongoing trial against him in Argentina. 

At the end of May, Pope Francis moved the office of the Vatican’s financial records database from the management of APSA to the Secretariat for the Economy.

The Secretariat for the Economy has oversight of the Vatican’s administrative and financial structures and activities, including monitoring the work of APSA.

Other recent appointments by Pope Francis have also gone to Italian laypeople.

June 12, the pope named Antonella Sciarrone Alibrandi a member of the directive counsel of the Financial Information Authority (AIF).

Alibrandi is vice-rector of Sacred Heart Catholic University in Milan, a lawyer, and a professor of banking law and financial markets law.

Another laywoman, Raffaella Vincenti, was named office head of the Vatican's Apostolic Library, after serving as the library's secretary.

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