Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s former economy czar, has said that if his office had been able to intervene sooner, it could have saved some of the money lost in the Secretariat of State’s controversial London property deal.

The Australian cardinal told the Italian newspaper La Stampa in an interview published Nov. 4: “There was resistance in the Secretariat of State. But if the auditor, or we from the Secretariat for the Economy, had been able to intervene earlier, we would have saved a lot, a lot of money destined for the London building and also in other places.”

In 2020, Pell returned to Rome from Australia, where he had been since 2017, when he took a leave of absence from his role as prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy to defend himself against charges of sexual abuse.

He was acquitted of an initial conviction and six-year prison sentence by Australia’s High Court in April 2020, after having spent 13 months in solitary confinement.

The journal Pell kept in prison has been published in two volumes.

He said that today he was praying and doing penance.

“I see a lot of people, I write something, I try to help some victims of sexual abuse,” he explained.

In 2014, Pell was appointed by Pope Francis to take charge of the newly created Secretariat for the Economy and lead efforts at reforming Vatican financial affairs.

Just two years later, an outside audit of Vatican finances, ordered by Pell, was suspended by the Secretariat of State, revealing a power struggle between the two Vatican offices.

Pell said that Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who at the time of the audit was the second-ranking official in the Secretariat of State, thought the auditor “had no authority to enter the Secretariat of State,” but “this was false.”

“We had the authority to enter, but they prevented us,” Pell said.

The cardinal told La Stampa that when he became economic chief in 2014, Vatican finances were still operating in the “old world,” and the economy office had to put in place “fundamental things.”

“We introduced the verification methodology that the whole world uses today. We discovered one billion and 300,000 euros [$1.2 billion] scattered in offices. We prepared a budget for the first time before the start of the financial year,” he said….

The above comes from a Nov. 4 story on the site of the Catholic News Agency.