VATICAN CITY — Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Feb. 18 that discussion of the Vatican Bank dominated the conversation of the council of eight cardinals’ second day of meetings with Pope Francis.
The council was chosen by the Pope to advise him on matters of Church governance and reform of the Roman Curia and is meeting with the Holy Father for the third time, following meetings in October and December. This week’s meetings began on Feb. 17 and will conclude on Feb. 19.
During the Feb. 18 press briefing, Father Lombardi said that after meeting with the council, formally known as the Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See yesterday, the cardinals continued today by hearing reports from the bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR).
The member of the council of cardinals are Cardinals Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo; Sean O’Malley of Boston; George Pell of Sydney; Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican city state; and Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Noting that Vatican Secretary of State Archbishop Pietro Parolin was present and will be for the remainder of the meetings, Vatican Radio reported that the cardinals began the day as usual, by celebrating Mass with the Holy Father in the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse.
Following the Mass, the council met at 9:30am, where they listened to reports from representatives of the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the IOR.
This commission was initially called as the result of the Pope’s desire to learn in more detail both the legal position and the activities of the institute, in order to create a greater harmony between the latter with the mission of the universal Church and the Apostolic See.
It was also done within the wider context of reforms involving some of the institutions that offer support to the Apostolic See, Vatican Radio reported, noting that the task of the commission is to gather information on the functioning of the institute and to report the results to the Pope.
According to the news agency, the presentations provided were received “with great interest by the cardinals” and centered on giving information on the current situation of the institute and the problems that it must face.
One of the main areas of discussion was the mission of the Vatican Bank as it relates to the actions of the Church in the world, both within and outside of an economic perspective. Although suggestions were offered by the cardinals for future changes, no decisions were made.
Attending the session this morning was the commission’s president, Cardinal Raffaele Farina, its coordinator, Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru, and its secretary, Msgr. Peter Bryan Wells. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who is a member of the commission, was also present.
Father Lombardi, as stated by Vatican Radio, commented on the importance of understanding, given the work of the two commissions, noting that their aims are different but that both fit within the “contextual reality of the Holy See.”
It is for this reason, the Vatican spokesman noted, that Pope Francis desires to have an overall view regarding the reorganization of the Vatican Bank’s governance and structures.
The cardinals will continue to meet in the afternoon and will conduct their final day of meetings tomorrow with a council of 15 prelates, who are currently preparing for the upcoming Synod of Bishops dedicated to the family.
This “council of 15,” Father Lombardi said, was “instituted by John Paul II” and is “responsible for the general consolidated financial statement of the Holy See and the governorate of Vatican city state.”