More Reforms for Scandal-plagued Vatican Bank

Pope Francis has approved a new direction for the scandal-ridden Vatican bank as it seeks to improve transparency and compliance with international guidelines, the Vatican said on April 7.

The bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, was founded in 1942 to manage funds for Roman Catholic institutions, Vatican employees and clergy but has been plagued by allegations of money laundering and Mafia links for decades.

Advertisement

The pope’s statement ended months of speculation about the troubled bank’s future and endorsed a proposal developed by Cardinal George Pell, head of the Vatican’s new Secretariat for the Economy.

“The IOR will continue to serve with prudence and provide specialized financial services to the Catholic Church worldwide,” the Vatican said in a statement released on behalf of the pope on April 7.

Ernst von Freyberg, president of the IOR, will work with bank management to finalize changes that fulfill the Vatican’s new financial structures, the statement said.

The pope identified the bank as a key target of reforms after his election last year and had not ruled out its closure if it was unable to conform to international standards of transparency and accountability.

Last year the bank published details of its accounts for the first time and a team of experts from the Promontory Financial Group, a regulatory compliance consulting firm, began screening the 19,000 accounts held by the bank looking for signs of money laundering and other crimes.

The Vatican bank has struggled to clean up its image since Roberto Calvi, dubbed “God’s banker” because of his dealings with it, was found hanging beneath Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982 in a suspected Mafia killing.

More recently the bank’s former president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was sacked in 2012 after Italian prosecutors seized 23 million euros ($29 million) from a Rome bank account registered to the IOR amid suspicions of money laundering.

Now Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a former Vatican accountant with close links to the IOR, is facing trial on charges of money laundering and allegedly plotting to smuggle millions of dollars from Switzerland into Italy in a tax-dodging scheme.

Paolo Cipriani and Massimo Tulli, the former director and deputy director at IOR, who resigned in July after Scarano’s arrest, have also been ordered to stand trial on charges of violating anti-money laundering norms.

The pope’s approval “represents for us a strong accreditation, a great recognition of the importance of our mission and service work done in the last 12 months,” said IOR spokesman Max Hohenberg, in a statement.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
geoffrey o'connell
3 years 10 months ago
I always argued the church should have be in Dublin !! Also this is why I don't give to Peter's Pence and the Bishop's appeal, while I pay for Catholic school busing.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Father Ireneusz Ekiert, administrator of Mary Help of Christians Church in Parkland, Fla., leads parishioners during an outdoor Stations of the Cross service on Feb. 16 dedicated to the victims and survivors of the deadly mass shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy)
In the midst of the unimaginable, Father Ekiert is telling his parishioners to show and live love daily—not just in a time of grief and horror.
Kate SteinFebruary 20, 2018
When I played hockey, other players of color were few and far between.
Antonio De Loera-BrustFebruary 20, 2018
Five years later, looking back on a momentous day in the life of the church
James Martin, SJFebruary 18, 2018