Thou shall be a whistleblower but not an anonymous one, new Vatican rules say

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican, which over the centuries has codified all aspects of faith, morals, doctrine and dissent, on Wednesday announced a new entry – the rights and responsibilities of a whistleblower.

The Vatican released a seven-page legal document and a press statement on the new rules, which take effect on Feb. 1. Both used the English term several times amid the Italian text.

“The procedure will facilitate the spread of the awareness of the institution of whistleblowing,” the statement from the Office of the Auditor General read.

It said the new procedures were part of Pope Francis’ efforts to install financial transparency and combat corruption.

The Vatican, no stranger to financial scandals, has for years allowed Suspicious Activity Reports(SAR)in its bank. But they have been used mostly by upper echelon sleuths and one SAR report led to the conviction of a cardinal on fraud charges last year.

The new democratisation of whistleblowing allows anyone in any department to signal suspected malfeasance, mostly of a financial type, in a simple, user friendly way that includes a dedicated email address in the auditor’s office.

Accusers cannot hide their identities with anonymous tips but the auditor will keep their names confidential, except in special cases where judicial authorities must be informed.

And lest anyone forget that the Vatican, like all bureaucracies, can be prone to office gossip, the new rules say whistleblowing should be reserved for serious offences and not petty “moaning” about a boss or colleague.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella)