George Yeo "honoured" by appointment to the Vatican's new Council for the Economy

Former foreign minister George Yeo, who was named on March 8 as a member of the Vatican's new Council for the Economy, told The Straits Times on Wednesday that he is "greatly honoured" by the appointment. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Former foreign minister George Yeo, who was named on March 8 as a member of the Vatican's new Council for the Economy, told The Straits Times on Wednesday that he is "greatly honoured" by the appointment. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Former foreign minister George Yeo, who was named on March 8 as a member of the Vatican's new Council for the Economy, told The Straits Times on Wednesday that he is "greatly honoured" by the appointment.

Mr Yeo will serve a five-year term alongside six other laypeople and eight cardinals. This is the first time the Roman Catholic Church has appointed lay Catholics for such a role. The council arose after an eight-member commission made recommendations to address organisational and economic problems of the Holy See - the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome. Mr Yeo was the only Asian member of the commission.

The move was part of an effort by Pope Francis I to clean up the scandal-hit institution he inherited from his predecessor Benedict XVI.

Mr Yeo told The Straits Times: "I feel greatly honoured to be appointed to the Council but also a deep sense of responsibility to be of assistance to the Holy Father in updating the economic structure and processes of the Holy See."

Now based in Hong Kong, Mr Yeo returns to Singapore once a month. Depending on his commitments, he travels to Rome either from Hong Kong or Singapore.

The other six laypeople are also individuals with professional financial competence, said the Vatican. They include Mr Joseph Zahra, a Maltese business consultant and former director of the Central Bank of Malta, Mr Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, a French expert in business administration and asset management and Mr John F Kyle, a retired vice-president and treasurer of Exxon-Mobil's Imperial Oil company in Canada.

The Vatican said the council would begin its work "immediately" and hold its first meeting in May.