VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis on Thursday (June 5) dismissed the five-member board that oversees the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency, an abrupt move that will give the financial operation more of an English-speaking focus.

A Swiss Guard salutes as Pope Francis and cardinals leave a meeting in the synod hall at the Vatican on Feb. 20, 2014. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

A Swiss Guard salutes as Pope Francis and cardinals leave a meeting in the synod hall at the Vatican on Feb. 20, 2014. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service


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The Vatican said the pope named five experts from Switzerland, Singapore, the United States and Italy to replace those who were removed from the board of the Financial Information Authority (AIF), the Holy See’s internal regulatory agency.

All five outgoing members were Italians who had been expected to serve five-year terms ending in 2016. The sole American on the new board is Juan Zarate, a senior adviser at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. Two of the new five members are Italian.

The pope has taken a hard line on cleaning up the Vatican finance system, and he had been urged to appoint professionals with international expertise to work with the head of the AIF, Rene Bruelhart, a Swiss lawyer. Francis has taken a personal interest in the scandal-tainted Vatican bank, or Institute for Religious Works.

According to a report by the Italian news agency ANSA, two senior officials at the bank have also been eased into early retirement after reports by two separate ad hoc committees appointed by Francis to study Vatican finances.

Officials have now finished screening the accounts of the bank’s 19,000 clients and are continuing to complete checks on the “visibility” of account holders and their transactions.

At the same time, Australian Cardinal George Pell, the former archbishop of Sydney now in charge of the new Secretariat for the Economy, is closely involved in many of the changes at the bank. He brought on Danny Casey, his business manager in Sydney, to handle planning and project management. Casey told priests in Sydney that his office “will be central to the establishment of new policies, systems and practices.”

KRE/MG END McKENNA

5 Comments

  1. More superficial fluff with showpiece new members with interesting experience—a George W. Bush terrorism financing expert, an Italian bureaucrat, an investment banker with Wall Street firms and an airline executive and government official.

    All honorable people presumably, but mere occasional advisers linked to the 0.01% plutocrats that Francis seems to prefer to surround himself with. They are all subject to removal by Pope Francis and, in a couple of years, by his successor, at any time.

    Enron and Lehman Brothers each also had impressive directors—indeed more impressive than these. It is all window dressing. Some naive and Vatican beholden reporters will be wowed, but not anyone who knows how large financial institutions actually work.

    To clean up Vatican finances, the overseers need to be selected independently by lay
    Catholics and subject to their removal.

    And most importantly, Vatican finances need to be thoroughly and regularly audited by an independent major international accounting firm.No such audit has ever been done and as best I can tell, is not even scheduled

  2. If we ALL GET TOGETHER all religion to stop mafia & terrorist it will help the world find a legal way to sabotage their operation mafia need contact , money connection, business front ,drugs etc let get them arrested I feel it the best interest of the world don’t forget some mafia type people in Hawaii ..

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