Pope Francis speaks during his weekly general audience on Ash Wednesday Feb. 22, 2023. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, Feb 24, 2023 / 08:45 am (CNA).

In an apostolic letter on Thursday, Pope Francis reaffirmed that the property and assets of the Holy See are “ecclesiastical public goods,” not private property.

“The universal destination of the Holy See’s assets gives them an ecclesiastical public nature,” the pope wrote in the Feb. 23 motu proprio.

“The entities of the Holy See acquire and use [the assets] not for themselves, like the private owner,” he continued, “but, in the name and authority of the Roman Pontiff, for the pursuit of their institutional purposes, which are likewise public, and thus for the common good and at the service of the Universal Church.”

The document on the “inherent right” of the Holy See to acquire temporal goods reinforces the pope’s centralization of the Holy See’s finances.

Pope Francis established Thursday that “all property, movable and immovable, including cash and securities, which has been or will be acquired, in whatever manner, by the curial institutions and the institutions connected to the Holy See, are ecclesiastical public goods and as such owned, in title or other real right, by the Holy See.”

Property and other assets of the Holy See are entrusted to entities as “public trustees and not owners,” he said.

“Entrusted with certain goods,” Francis said, “the institutions of the Roman Curia and Holy See must administer them with prudence and good management according to the rules of the apostolic constitution Praedicate evangelium.”