The Commission of Cardinals overseeing the Institute for the Works of Religion, or “Vatican bank”, were named on Wednesday; of the five existing members, only one was confirmed in his post.
The five current members are Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Archbishop
of Vienna; Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto; Cardinal
Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for
Interreligious Dialogue; Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, Archpriest of
the Basilica of Saint Mary Major; and Archbishop Pietro Parolin,
secretary of state.
Cardinal Tauran is the only member of 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 bi-annually, and oversees
the Vatican bank's compliance with its statutory norms, according to the
manner provided for in its by-laws. 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 result 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 a financial institution such as the Vatican
Pope Francis' appointments to the commission continue the campaign of
financial transparency for the Vatican which 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 thus signals his concern and
attention to the Vatican bank.
Cardinal Abril y Castello is a long-time Vatican diplomat trusted by
Pope Francis; he served as apostolic nuncio to Argentina from 2000 to
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
Pope Francis has established a committee for financial security, and
promulgated a law on Oct. 8 establishing a financial system taking into
account the peculiarities of the Vatican City State.