New Members Named to Vatican Bank’s Commission of Cardinals

Only one member was retained from the previous commission that supervised the operations of the Institute for the Works of Religion.

VATICAN CITY — The commission of cardinals overseeing the Institute for the Works of Religion, known informally as the Vatican Bank, were named on Wednesday.

The five members are Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna; Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto; Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major; and Archbishop Pietro Parolin, secretary of state.

Cardinal Tauran is the only member from the old commission to have been confirmed in his post. Pope Francis’ decision to appoint the new commission marks a new era for the Vatican Bank.

The cardinals’ commission convenes at least biannually and oversees the Vatican Bank’s compliance with its statutory norms, according to the manner provided for in its bylaws. It is charged with drawing up a report into the juridical standing and activities of the institution.

The commission no longer includes the president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, as it had in its two previous mandates, as a consequence of the Vatican’s adoption of international standards for financial transparency and anti-money-laundering efforts.

According to these standards, it is important to make a clear distinction among each of the Vatican institutions involved with financial issues, in order to avoid conflicts of interest. Thus a public authority such as the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See cannot be included in oversight of a financial institution such as the Vatican Bank.

Pope Francis’ appointments to the commission continue the campaign of financial transparency for the Vatican that was initiated under his predecessor, Benedict XVI.

The commission had been renewed in February 2013, and its five-year mandate was not set to expire until 2017. Pope Francis’ decision to appoint commission members so early signals his concern and attention to the Vatican Bank.

Cardinal Abril y Castello is a longtime Vatican diplomat trusted by Pope Francis; he served as apostolic nuncio to Argentina from 2000 to 2003.

 

The Reform Process

Vatican financial reform was begun in 2009, when the Holy See, under Benedict XVI, signed a monetary agreement with the European Union and issued an anti-money-laundering law the following year.

It underwent an evaluation by the Council of Europe’s Moneyval committee in 2011, after which it amended and improved its anti-money-laundering law. In July 2012, the Vatican received a generally positive evaluation from Moneyval.

Pope Francis has established a committee for financial security and promulgated a law on Oct. 8, 2013, establishing a financial system taking into account the peculiarities of the Vatican city state.

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