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Pope's financial czar: Vatican has millions 'tucked away' and is in better shape than thought

Pope Francis listens to a speech during a special audience he held for members of the FOCSIV Italian Catholic volunteers, at the Vatican, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Francis listens to a speech during a special audience he held for members of the FOCSIV Italian Catholic volunteers, at the Vatican, Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)  (The Associated Press)

The Vatican's economy czar says the Holy See's finances are in better shape than he thought, revealing that hundreds of millions of euros were tucked away off the balance sheet and that reforms are forging ahead to make the Vatican "boringly successful."

In a frank essay published Thursday in The Catholic Herald, Cardinal George Pell outlined his vision for a Vatican that follows international accounting standards, is transparent and audited externally, and uses its proceeds to help the poor.

Pope Francis was elected on a mandate to get the Vatican's finances in order after years of scandal. Pell was one of the most vocal in calling for reform, and was named by Francis to head the new Secretariat for the Economy to oversee the process.