Pope Francis made another move to clean house at the troubled Vatican bank on Wednesday, naming a new roster of cardinal advisers to replace the ones who were in place during its latest brushes with scandal.
Only one cardinal from the previous commission overseeing the bank’s operations, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, survived the cut.
Francis on Wednesday named four others to round out the commission, including his hand-picked secretary of state, Cardinal-elect Pietro Parolin, and Francis’ close friend Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello.
The other members include Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, archbishop of Vienna, and Cardinal Thomas Collins, archbishop of Toronto.
On Feb. 16, 2013, just days after announcing his resignation, Pope Benedict XVI confirmed the existing members of the bank’s supervisory body for another five years. The members included Benedict’s longtime deputy and secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was widely blamed for many of the Vatican’s administrative shortcomings during Benedict’s papacy.
Francis has now essentially undone Benedict’s decree, relieving Bertone and the other commission members of their jobs as he moves forward with his reform of the bank, formally known as the Institute for Religious Works.
Over the summer, Francis named a trusted friend, Monsignor Battista Ricca, to fill a vacant supervisory position and appointed an independent commission of inquiry to look into the bank’s activities and legal status.
Those decisions were taken in the days surrounding the July 1 ouster of the bank’s top two managers and the arrest of a Vatican accountant with several Vatican bank accounts on charges he plotted to smuggle $26 million into Italy from Switzerland. The accountant, dubbed “Monsignor 500” for the types of euro notes he purportedly favored, is currently on trial in Rome on the smuggling charge and is also under investigation in his native Salerno, a city in southern Italy, in a money-laundering case involving his Vatican accounts.
Prior to that affair was the controversial 2012 ouster of the bank’s then-president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. The board accused Gotti Tedeschi of incompetence and failing to do his job.
And before that, in 2010, Italian police seized $31.2 million from an IOR account and Rome prosecutors placed the IOR’s then-president, Gotti Tedeschi, and general director Paolo Cipriani under investigation for alleged violations of anti-money laundering norms in conducting a routine transaction from a Vatican account at an Italian bank. The money was eventually unfrozen. Gotti Tedeschi was subsequently exonerated as a suspect. Cipriani hasn’t been charged.
In 2012, under pressure from the Bank of Italy, U.S. bank JPMorgan closed its IOR accounts. And in December of 2012, again under pressure from the Bank of Italy, Deutsche Bank Italia halted its 15-year term providing electronic payment services to the Vatican, leaving the tiny city state cash-only for months.
The five-member Cardinal’s Commission, as it is known, names the lay board of the Vatican bank and its top two general managers and makes sure they adhere to the bank’s mission to administer money for works of charity.
The Holy See is the corporation (The Catholic Church Inc.)
The Curia (-> cur-rency?) has to do w finances
Kerry is a Jesuit (as is the pope(s), Biden, Boehner…)
2011: ‘People & Power’ examines the secretive world of the Vatican’s bank.
Earlier this month, the Vatican, the sovereign papal state at the heart of Rome, introduced new rules to clean up its financial system.
At the heart of that system is the Vatican’s own bank, the Institute of Religious Works (IOR).
Until now the IOR has operated with few of the regulations that govern the activities of banks in the wider world, with sometimes disturbing results.
In the 1980s it became involved in an infamous fraud scandal the Banco Ambrosiano affair which made global headlines when its chief, Roberrto Calvi, was found hanging from a bridge in London, a murder that has never been solved.
More recently Italian state prosecutors have been investigating allegations of money laundering at the IOR, freezing some accounts, seizing funds and putting its president under formal scrutiny.
Filmmakers Alessandro Righi and Emanuele Piano have been examining this latest chapter in the history of a notoriously secretive organisation.’
(Al J. supposedly independent at the time, April 2011)