Pope Francis has ordered the creation of a commission to investigate the Vatican Bank following questions of money laundering and corruption. This is the second step taken by Pope Francis to get answers about the bank and its practices.
Prior to Wednesday’s formation of an investigative committee, Pope Francis assigned Monsignor Battista Mario Salvatore Ricca to become the interim prelate to the Institute for Religious Works, or IOR, BBC reports. Ricca would serve as Pope Francis’ representative inside the Vatican Bank.
The inquiry commission will consist of five members, Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon and Monsignor Peter Bryan Wells from the United States, Cardinal Raffaele Farina, Cardinal Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran and Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru, Radio Vatican reports. Cardinal Farina, who previously served as the archivist for the Vatican Secret Archives, will act as the commission’s president.
The IOR is no stranger to fraud or corruption, the Associated Press notes, and most recently a senior Vatican official, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, was being investigated for money laundering. The IOR played a role in the 1982 Banco Ambrosiano fraud scandal that led to the collapse of the bank. The Vatican Bank had to pay $250 million to the bank’s creditors following the bank’s inability to account for $1.3 billion in loans although the Vatican did not accept any liability.
The goal of the commission will be to investigate the Vatican Bank’s activities and governmental structure which could lead to possible reforms within the IOR. According to the Vatican’s statement, “The opportunity to establish a commission arose from the desire of the Holy Father to learn more about the juridical position and activities of the Institute to enable better harmonization of said Institute with the mission of the Universal Church and the Apostolic See, in the more general context of reforms that should be carried out by the institutions that aid the Apostolic See.”
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Allegations of money laundering, corruption and infighting were revealed as part of the Vatileaks scandal in 2012. The Vatican documents were leaked by Pope Benedict XVI’s personal butler, Paolo Gabriele, to journalists. The documents allegedly showed corruption within the Vatican Bank. Pope Francis has made a point of wanting to eliminate corruption in the Vatican, AP reorts, having also established another committee to review the Vatican as a whole.
The commission will serve to oversee the Vatican Bank and collect records while having power to overrule any secrecy rules in place, notes AP. The IOR manages the pension fund of Vatican employees and all of the assets of the church, approximately $7.1 billion, BBC notes.