Pope’s finance czar, who pushes for spending review, defends his office’s expenditures

Pope Francis’ finance czar has defended the expenditures of his office following reports it had racked up a half-million euros ($575,000) in bills in the last six months.

Australian Cardinal George Pell’s office has been insisting on a spending review elsewhere in the Vatican.

A spokesman for the Secretariat for the Economy, in a statement Saturday, said the expenses were normal for a new operation and below budget.

Italian newsweekly L’Espresso recently detailed opposition within the Vatican to his financial reforms, and cited receipts for expenditures including the salary and housing costs for his Australian aide and clerical tailor’s bill for more than 2,500 euros ($2,800).

The leaks were apparently aimed at discrediting Pell, who has ruffled feathers in entrenched Vatican bureaucracy.

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