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Vatican Bank Prepares to Open its Doors to the Media

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 12:20 PM Comments (2)

The supervisory board of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), popularly known as the Vatican Bank, held its first meeting today since the board issued a vote of no confidence in former president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi last month.

The meeting, in which members discussed the selection of Gotti's successor, took place a day before the IOR receives a large group of journalists at its offices as part of efforts, initiated by Pope Benedict XVI, to increase transparency.

In a communique published this afternoon, the Vatican announced the board had “two very useful meetings for sharing information and proposals both regarding day to day management as well as the universal criteria of professionalism and experience that are called for in light of the choice of [the Bank's] new president."

The statement said one of the meetings involved the board reporting to a supervisory commission of cardinals, chaired by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State.

It added that Benedict XVI is “closely monitoring the current situation" of the IOR, and that he is being "constantly briefed by the Cardinal Secretary of State.”

The board’s members include Knights of Columbus's Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, the IOR’s Vice-President, Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz (currently acting president), Antonio Maria Marocco and Manuel Soto Serrano.

On May 24th the board issued a vote of no confidence in Gotti Tedeschi, saying the Italian financier “failed to carry out his basic duties” among other criticisms. The former president said in hisdefense he had “paid the price for transparency.”

The IOR has been striving to carry out the Pope’s wishes to make the institution more transparent so that it can come into line with anti-money laundering regulations. It has insisted its efforts towards greater transparency had nothing to do with Gotti Tedeschi’s dismissal.

In a bid to underline how seriously the Vatican is trying to open up the IOR’s practices, the institution has, for the first time in its history, invited around 50 journalists to visit its offices tomorrow morning.

According to the Vatican, the assembled media will be given an “extensive report” and “good documentation” on the institution by its director general, Paolo Cipriani, followed by a chance to ask questions. Given the nature of the meeting, the Vatican has insisted that no photography or audio recordings will be allowed.

An offshore trust more than a bank, and one that primarily holds funds belonging to Church organisations and religious institutes, the IOR has a history of being a vulnerable target for dubious clients wishing to launder money. Matters came to a head in the 1980s and 1990s when the institution became embroiled in a much-publicized financial scandal.

Tomorrow's media "open day" comes ahead of the IOR’s biggest test: the results of an evaluation by Moneyval, a Council of Europe committee tasked with ensuring nation states have effective systems in place to counter money laundering and terrorist financing, and that such systems comply with international standards. The body is expected to give its assessment in Strasbourg in early July.

Filed under benedict xvi, institute for works of religion, vatican bank

About Edward Pentin

Edward Pentin
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Edward Pentin began reporting on the Pope and the Vatican with Vatican Radio before moving on to become the Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Register. He has also reported on the Holy See and the Catholic Church for a number of other publications including Newsweek, Newsmax, Zenit, The Catholic Herald, and The Holy Land Review, a Franciscan publication specializing in the Church and the Middle East. Follow on Twitter @edwardpentin