In an article on May 30, 2013 by Rachel Donadio for the NY Times, “Vatican Bank Looks to Shed Its Image as an Offshore Haven“ does look into the Vatican Bank’s recent past. Before his retirement in February, Pope Benedict appointed Ernst von Freyberg, 54, as the new head of the bank that causes a lot of distraction. Officially, the real name for the Vatican bank is the Institute for Religious Works (IOR) or sometimes the IOR is called the Institute for the Works of Religion. The IOR is not a commercial bank like Chase or TD Bank.
Mr von Freyberg is a German citizen, an accomplished businessman with strong Catholic roots and who is a member of the Order of Malta, a group of faith Catholics who serve the Church and society by defending the faith and serving the needs of the sick and poor.
I, for one, would like to see the IOR vanish. In my opinion, there is a little need for the IOR. But I am happy to hear von Freyberg say,
“Our mission is to serve and shine,” the bank’s president, Ernst von Freyberg, said with a smile. “Our first pillar is transparency.” He spoke from an office in the medieval tower that houses the bank inside the Vatican, beneath a painting depicting a Gospel lesson, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God, what is God’s.”
If what was reported is true, there may be hope for the Vatican Bank only founded in 1942 but has a lackluster patrimony. So much so there is an incredible list of alleged activities from kidnapping, murder, money laundering, internal fraud, mis-representation, poor management, and so on. Scandal exists with this institution and we can without more scandal since it is sinful (immoral) and criminal.
Under Pope Benedict XVI the Holy See published rules of engagement with the formation of the Financial Information Authority. Not long along ago Pope Francis cancelled the stipends given to the cardinals who acted as advisors to the Bank. More change to come.
Some people say that the IOR’s profit for 2012 was $112.6 million (USD) managing total assests of $9.23 billion (USD). Exact figures are due to be published on October 1.
The NY Times article can be read here.