Pope Francis has decreed that cardinals and other Vatican staff can no longer accept gifts worth more than €40 (£35), in his latest crackdown on corruption within the Holy See.
It will mean an end to the sometimes lavish gifts and generous cash donations that cardinals and monsignors have received in the past from benefactors and supporters.
“All employees are prohibited to receive gifts worth more than €40,” the Pope said in a strongly-worded document that was issued on Thursday by the Vatican.
Senior managers will also be required to declare that they have no past criminal convictions and that they are not subject to investigations regarding “organized crime, corruption, fraud, terrorism, laundering money from criminal activity, exploitation of minors, human trafficking or tax evasion.”
They are not allowed to invest money in tax havens or to put money into “companies whose principles are against the Church’s doctrine” – arms manufacturers, for instance.
Cardinals queue to greet Pope Francis in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican – AP
The rules apply to anyone in a management position in the Holy See as well as those who have judicial or administrative roles.
The fact that the Pope felt it necessary to issue such a tough set of rules is a measure of the scandals that have dogged the Vatican in recent years, most recently over the purchase of a former Harrods property in Sloane Avenue in Chelsea, London.
The Vatican had hoped to turn the building into luxury apartments as an investment but the deal is being scrutinized by Vatican investigators amid fears that the Holy See was swindled out of millions of euros by brokers and middlemen.
The reference to “exploitation of minors” is particularly pointed given the huge number of sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church in the last few decades.
Any official found to have given a false or “mendacious” declaration could be summarily dismissed.
Pope Francis may be famously frugal but he has received some lavish presents himself in the past.
In 2017 he was given a €180,000 Lamborghini Huracan in the Vatican colours of white and yellow, while in 2013 he was given a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Both were auctioned off, with the proceeds going to charity