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Evangelization congregation denies mismanaging property

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By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples strongly denied accusations of cronyism in renting out properties in Rome.

The congregation released a statement Nov. 11 after several news reports claimed that Vatican-owned apartments were rented far below market value and that several of those owned by the congregation were rented at nominal rates to Italian politicians, entertainers and relatives of Vatican employees.

The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples promotes evangelization and missionary cooperation around the globe and has special responsibility for bishops, dioceses and developing jurisdictions in Africa, the Far East and parts of the Pacific and Latin America. The money collected from properties owned by the congregation is used to support the church’s missionary initiatives around the world.

In its statement, the congregation also denied reports that it owned a spa and a prominent hotel in Rome, saying the reports were “unacceptable” and “untrue.”

“All the properties belonging to the congregation were donated for the missions and are rented out at the market price, although there are exceptions for people living in situations of poverty,” the statement said. The properties, the statement continued, are rented out “in compliance with Italian law” and in 2014 the congregation paid more than 2.1 million euros in property taxes.

Income from the rents, it said, is used to “maintain the congregation, the Pontifical Urbanian University, the Pontifical Urban College, missionary institutions and young churches in mission territories.”

Regarding the continuing reform of the Roman Curia and efforts to revise and standardize Vatican budgeting and financial reporting procedures, the congregation said it fully adheres to Pope Francis’ “line of thought” and will continue to hand over financial and budgetary reports to the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy.

The statement also warned of further false or misleading reports, saying the congregation was prepared “to protect its image in the appropriate forums.”

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