George Pell appointed by Pope Francis to Rome role

POPE Francis has appointed the Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell to a new senior role in the Vatican.

Cardinal Pell will be the Prefect for the Economy of the Holy See and will be based in Rome.

It is the most senior role to which an Australian cardinal has been appointed, the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney reports.

Australia's first ambassador to the Holy See, Tim Fischer said today it is a wise move by Pope Francis and "long overdue".

Speaking from Rome Cardinal Pell said he was deeply honoured to have been appointed by the Holy Father as the Prefect of the new Secretariat for the Economy.

The Holy Father announced the new arrangements for economic and administrative affairs after receiving a report on the review conducted by the expert panel he established last year. 

The review recommendations were endorsed by both the Council of 8 Cardinals established to advise the Holy Father on governance and the Committee of 15 Cardinals which oversee the financial affairs.   

The recommendations include changes to existing management structures, improvements in financial planning, reporting and auditing as well as the more formal involvement of senior lay experts in the policy making procedures.

Cardinal Pell said these are important and very significant moves in the right direction.

"If we make better use of the resources entrusted to us we can improve our capacity to support the good works of the Church, particularly our works for the poor and disadvantaged."

"The review has highlighted that much can be achieved through improved financial planning and reporting as well as enhancements in governance, internal controls and various administrative support functions.  I am looking forward to implementing these recommendations as requested by the Holy Father.

"I have always recognised the need for the Church to be guided by experts in this area and will be pleased to be working with the members of the new Council for the Economy as we approach these tasks."

"We need to be open to expert advice and aware of any opportunity to improve the way we conduct our financial administration."

"It is an enormous task and it is important we embrace and implement the recommended changes as soon as practicable."

The Cardinal leaves behind an Archdiocese that has extended its work dramatically in recent years. 

The Archdiocese now has two vibrant seminaries, two Catholic universities, nearly 70,000 students in its schools as well as extensive programs for the support of tertiary students, young people and families.

  Services to the poor and marginalised have also been expanded with CatholicCare, the welfare arm of Archdiocese now conducting over 140 programs through a network of centres across Sydney 

The Archdiocese was on the international stage in 2008 when the Cardinal hosted World Youth Day  and welcomed Pope Benedict and the young people of the world to Sydney for the largest gathering in Australia's history. 

In 2011 Pope Benedict was also welcomed by Cardinal Pell to Domus Australia, the new pilgrim centre in Rome, where he blessed and officially opened the new facility.

Cardinal Pell will shortly return to Sydney and is expected to take up his new position by the end of March.

However while in Sydney he will give evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Sexual Abuse.