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by Jerry Robinson, FTMDaily.com Editor-in-Chief
It appears Pope Francis really is making attempts to clean up the Vatican bank.
For years, the Vatican bank, also known as the Institute for Religious Works, or IOR, has been tainted with various allegations of money laundering and even terrorist financing.
But today, Pope Francis took a major step toward bringing transparency to the troubled Vatican bank by naming a commission of inquiry to investigate the activities of the secretive financial institution “to allow for a better harmonization with the universal mission of the Apostolic See.”
According to an AP report:
“Francis named five people to the commission, including two Americans: Monsignor Peter Wells, a top official in the Vatican secretariat of state, and Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard law professor, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See and current president of a pontifical academy.
American cardinals were among the most vocal in demanding a wholesale reform of the Vatican bureaucracy — and the Vatican bank — in the meetings outlining the priorities for the new pope in the run-up to the March conclave that elected Francis. The demands were raised following revelations in leaked documents last year that told of dysfunction, petty turf wars and allegations of corruption in the Holy See’s governance.
Francis, who has made clear he has no patience for corruption and wants a “poor” church, has already named a separate commission of cardinals to advise him on the broader question of reforming the Vatican bureaucracy as a whole.”
This bold move on the part of Pope Francis comes on the heels of yet another Vatican money-laundering scandal involving Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a high-ranking priest, who allegedly attempted to launder money through the Vatican bank by depositing checks that falsely appeared as offerings.
The Vatican bank was created by Pope Pius XII in 1942 for the purpose of managing the Vatican’s assets. The bank has approximately 33,000 clients — mainly comprised of priests, cardinals, and nuns — and has been entrusted with managing the Vatican’s pension plan, which covers many of the 5,000+ Vatican employees.
The Vatican’s latest President, German lawyer and banker Ernst von Freyberg, was just recently installed after the bank’s former head, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was fired in May 2012 amid arguments over new money-laundering rules and banking reforms.