Vatican lays out procedure, protections for whistleblowers

Pope Francis sits in his white chair and speaks into a microphone while holding a piece of paper

Pope Francis speaks to visitors during his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican Jan. 24, 2024. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

Justin McLellan

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Any Vatican employee, contractor or consultant to the Holy See will have a designated path for reporting suspicious spending, including a dedicated email address to send information to, the Vatican decreed.

In a document published Jan. 24, the Vatican expanded on the procedure for reporting "anomalous activities" provided in the statutes for the Office of the Auditor General published in 2019.

The new document stated that reports may be sent to the auditor general's office regarding "anomalies in the use or allocation of financial or material resources, irregularities in the awarding of contracts or the conduct of transactions or disposals and acts of corruption or fraud."

It added that whistleblowers may report "improper conduct that poses a threat or harm to the common good," such as "accounting irregularities, false statements; as well as conduct aimed at obstructing the submission of reports, violating related obligations of official secrecy, or discriminating against the reporter."

However, reports "should not relate to grievances of a personal nature" or "claims that fall under the discipline of the employment relationship."

The document specified that reports may be sent to a dedicated email address ( or via private letter to the Office of the Auditor General.

The Office of the Auditor General was established by Pope Francis in 2014.

Although whistleblowers are required to provide their name and other identifying information in their report, the document specifies that "the Auditor General shall guard the confidentiality, integrity and security of reports, and shall especially ensure the confidentiality of the identity of the reporting person."

The identity of a whistleblower may only be revealed to a Vatican judge when it is decided that knowledge of the identity is necessary for an investigation or judicial activity.

"All those who participate in any capacity in the analysis of reports received are bound by official secrecy," the document said, including secrecy about details of a report that could lead to the indirect identification of the whistleblower.

Any reports of anomalous activity made in good faith would not constitute a violation of a whistleblower's obligation to professional secrecy, it said.

The document said that upon examining whistleblower reports, the auditor general presents a report to the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and "if he deems it necessary, also to the cardinal coordinator of the Council for the Economy," who is currently German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising.

The Office of the Auditor General will then notify the whistleblower of decisions within three months of acknowledging their receipt of the report.

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