In his latest move to clean up the financial scandals that have plagued the Vatican in recent years, Pope Francis has replaced a cardinal who headed the financial watchdog agency launched under Pope Benedict XVI with a bishop associated with an earlier effort to foster reform.
Vatican announced Thursday that 76-year-old Italian Cardinal Attilio
Nicora has stepped down as president of the Vatican's Financial
Information Authority, the anti-money-laundering agency launched under
Benedict XVI in 2011.
In his place, Francis has named 66-year-old
Italian Bishop Giorgio Corbellini, who will also keep his job as head
of the Vatican's labor office and head of the disciplinary commission of
the Roman Curia. The appointment to the Financial Information Authority
was made ad interim, meaning Corbellini has no fixed term.
1993 to 2011, Corbellini was a senior official of the Government of the
Vatican City State, where he worked under Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigane,
the current papal ambassador in the United States and the former No. 2
official at the City State.
Vigane was seen as a reformer, with a
track record of cutting costs, imposing competitive bidding procedures,
and creating a centralized system for procurement. After just 10
months, Vigane reportedly saved enough on running the Vatican Gardens
alone that he was able to fund an update of the Vatican's heating
Vigane also wrote letters to Pope Benedict XVI
chronicling his struggles against various forms of what he described as
corruption and cronyism, and in one, he asserted that his enemies were
trying to force him out in order to short-circuit reforms. That
correspondence became public as part of the Vatican leaks scandal.
was seen as a Vigane ally, and in a January 2012 broadcast on Italian
television after Vigane was removed, Corbellini essentially backed his
Overall, the shift from Nicora to Corbellini is likely
to be read as a move away from the Vatican's "old guard" and toward a
more aggressive reform posture.
The shake-up at the Financial
Information Authority follows a similar move in mid-January in which
Francis overhauled a commission of cardinals that oversees the Vatican
bank, among other things removing Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the
former secretary of state on whose watch the bank found itself mired in
a series of scandals.
Rene Bruelhart, the Swiss
anti-money-laundering expert hired by the Vatican in 2012 to serve as
director of the Financial Information Authority, will remain as
If anything, most observers say, Thursday's move strengthens
Bruelhart's position by making it clear the pope supports the broad
direction in which his agency is moving.