Pope Benedict XVI has appointed a leading South Korean Catholic layman as one of the international auditors of the Holy See's finances.
The Pope named Thomas Han Hong-Soon, an economics lecturer at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, in Seoul, as an auditor for the Prefecture of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, the Vatican announced on Saturday.
Pope Paul VI established the prefecture in 1967 as an internal auditing office of the Roman Curia. It exercises oversight and provides direction for financial management of all administrations linked to the Holy See, except the Vatican Bank and Peter's Pence, through which Catholics donate funds for the pope's use. The prefecture reviews their records, annual financial statements and budgets, and recommends that the pope approve or disapprove them.
Han becomes the fifth member of its international college of auditors. The college acts under a board of cardinals assisting the prefecture's head, also a cardinal.
The lecturer, president of the Catholic Lay Apostolate Council of Korea, is also a member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. He has participated in a number of synods of bishops as a lay auditor.
In 2007, he was part of the Korean delegation to the Second World Congress of Ecclesial Organizations working for Justice and Peace, held in Rome.
Many observers in Rome believe his intervention at the recent Synod on the Word of God, in the presence of the pope, contributed to his new appointment. Han called Church leaders to review lifestyles and possessions within the Church and ensure that all contracts they sign respect fundamental principles of social justice.
In his October 14 intervention, the Korean academic said people are more persuaded by holiness of life than by intellectual argument, and urged Catholics to put the Church's social doctrine into practice.
"The Church leaders need to make a serious examination of the lifestyles and possessions within the Church in light of the Word of God and take every measure possible to implement the social doctrine," Han said.
"When making commercial contracts, the Church must ensure that principles of justice, living wages and good working conditions are included in them," he stated. "Unfortunately, the Church's record has not always been satisfactory."
Han expressed his hope the synod foster a biblical lifestyle "proper to a witnessing Church" and life-changing formation for lay Catholics based on the Church's social doctrine and aimed at combating "structures of sin."
Such formation must be "performative," he said, echoing Pope Benedict's assertion in the encyclical Spe Salvi (in hope we were saved): "The Christian message was not only 'informative' but 'performative' ... [a communication] that makes things happen and is life-changing."
Han also told the synod: "We need competent educators in the field of social doctrine and in the study of the Word of God." The Korean lay leader urged Church leaders to invest human and financial resources in the formation of educators.