ROME – In a surprising twist to Pope Francis’s project of financial reform, the Vatican announced Tuesday that Libero Milone, an Italian financier and expert in accounting who had been hired in June 2015 with great fanfare for the new post of Auditor General, has resigned effectively immediately and will have no further Vatican role.
The terse, four-line statement issued Tuesday offers no explanation for the move, which is likely to invite suspicious about what the motives for Milone’s sudden departure may have been.
“It’s noted that Doctor Libero Milone yesterday presented his resignation to the Holy Father from the position of Auditor General,” the statement says. “The Holy Father accepted it. Thus concludes, by common agreement, the relationship of collaboration with the Holy See.”
“While it wishes Doctor Milone every good for his future activity, the Holy See informs that, as soon as possible, a process will be activated to nominate a new director for the Office of Auditor General.”
Milone, 67, had served as the Italian delegate for Deloitte, an international auditing and tax services firm prior to his Vatican appointment. Though Italian, he was born in Holland and had worked in both Great Britain and the United States over the course of his career, including stints for such major global firms as Fiat and Wind.
At the time of his appointment, Vatican officials stressed the importance of Milone’s role, describing the Auditor General as “completely independent,” reporting only to the pope, and able to compel any Vatican entity to open its books in order to verify how its money is being spent.
At least at the level of external impressions, the idea that Milone might be a threat to vested interests in the Vatican appeared bolstered shortly after his hiring, when news broke that someone had broken into his personal computer located in his office on Rome’s Via della Conciliazione, just a stone’s throw from St. Peter’s Square.