As part of his effort to clean up the Catholic Church’s finances, Pope Francis said Wednesday during his weekly audience at the Vatican that he did not want “dirty money” donations earned from abusing low-income workers given to the church, Reuters reported.
“Some donors come to the Church offering profits from the blood of people who have been exploited, mistreated, enslaved with badly paid work,” Francis said. “I will say to them: ‘Please take your money away. Burn it.’ The people of God... do not need dirty money; they need hearts that are open to God’s mercy.”
Francis, who recently returned from a visit to Mexico where he addressed issues of poverty and corruption, has made cleaning up the Church’s finances and speaking to the world’s poor main tenets of his papacy.
“Experience teaches us that each time we seek the path of privilege or benefits for a few to the detriment of the good of all, sooner or later the life of society becomes a fertile soil for corruption, the drug trade, the exclusion of different cultures, violence and also human trafficking, kidnapping and death,” Francis said while speaking to Mexican government officials last month.
Francis ordered an audit of the Church’s wealth in December in what has been described as an “unprecedented” move. A panel established for the audit has been tasked with addressing financial challenges and how the Church’s resources can be better devoted to good works, especially work aimed at helping poor and vulnerable populations.
As part of his efforts, Francis increased the the powers of the Vatican’s financial intelligence authority. Despite recent efforts, European financial watchdog Moneyval has said the Vatican needs to be more aggressive in its efforts and especially in prosecuting financially linked crimes.
Since he became the head of the Church in 2013, Pope Francis has regularly issued statements regarding the need for greater transparency with Church funds. The Vatican Bank is estimated to hold $6.4 billion in deposits while its assets, which include large collections of art and real estates, are worth over $3 billion.