Jan. 7, 2016

Joseph F. X. Zahra

Maltese Economist Handpicked by Pope Francis to Tackle Financial Issues .Joseph F. X. Zahra, a Maltese economist who has played a key role in putting the Vatican's financial house in order, will speak at The Catholic University of America about the progress of reform efforts on Thursday, Feb. 4, at 3 p.m.His lecture in Father O'Connell Hall is titled "Inside the Financial and Administrative Changes at the Vatican: What Pope Francis Wants and Why He is Doing It."Zahra is the former head of Malta's Bank of Valletta and a former director of the Central Bank of Malta. Over the past five years, he has lent his expertise to the Vatican. In 2011, he was appointed to the International Audit Committee of the Holy See and the Vatican City State. In 2013, Pope Francis asked him to serve as president of the new Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See. The following year the Pope tapped him again, this time to join the Council for the Economy of the Holy See, the body charged with financial oversight of all Vatican-related entities, including the Roman curia. Zahra is the vice coordinator of that council, making him the highest ranking lay member of the Pope's ad hoc cabinet on financial affairs.Zahra says that "what lies at the heart of Pope Francis's financial and administrative reorganization of the Vatican is his wish to ensure transparency, simplicity and the efficient use of resources." These reforms, he adds, "are not an end in themselves, but are designed to free up assets to finance the Church's mission of evangelization - particularly programs that help the poor and the marginalized." Zahra's visit to the U.S. is sponsored by CAPP-USA, the U.S. arm of Fondazione Centesimus Annus - Pro Pontifice, the Vatican foundation that promotes the implementation of the principles of Catholic social teaching. His talk at CUA is hosted by the Office of the Provost."Nearly three years ago, when the cardinals gathered in a consistory to elect a new pope, there was keen interest in selecting someone who would resolve to modernize the Vatican's financial operations," says Provost Andrew Abela. "Meeting this challenge has been an important priority for Pope Francis and it will be very interesting to hear Mr. Zahra's perspective as one of the key architects of the Pope's reform efforts." MEDIA: To cover the lecture, media should register with the Office of Public Affairs by contacting Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy Hines at 202-319-5600 or cua-public-affairs@cua.edu .