A scandal-tainted Vatican bank, the necessity
of which has been openly questioned by the pope, will be the target
of a five-member investigative panel commissioned by Pope Francis,
the Holy See announced on Wednesday.
In its 71-year history, the Institute of Religious Works (IOR) has been linked to fraud and money laundering and is still under investigation by Italian magistrates. However, it has tried to clean up its act in recent years.
Four prelates - including two cardinals - and Mary Ann Glendon, a Harward Law School professor and former US ambassador to the Holy See, will prepare a report for the pontiff after scrutinizing the bank's work, a statement from the Holy See read.
The pope was said to have set up the committee because he "wants to know better the legal position and the activities of the institute so that they can be better harmonized with the mission of the Universal Church and of the Apostolic Seat."
The move seemed to confirm expectations that Francis is planning to radically overhaul the IOR as part of a wider reform of the Curia, the Vatican's governing body. He has asked another committee to suggest changes, due to be discussed in October.
No deadline was given for the report.
Since his election three months ago, Francis has made a point of shunning pomp and protocol and said institutions such as the IOR were "necessary only up to a point," while speaking in favour of "a poor Church, for the poor."
Two weeks ago, he filled a key position at the IOR, naming Monsignor Battista Mario Salvatore Ricca as interim prelate, the top clerical position at the bank. The move was seen as a first attempt by the pope to tighten his grip on the institution.
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