VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis made another move to clean house at the troubled Vatican bank on Wednesday, naming a new roster of cardinal advisers to replace the ones who were in place during its latest brushes with scandal.
Only one cardinal from the previous
commission overseeing the bank's operations, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran,
survived the cut.
Francis on Wednesday named four others
to round out the commission, including his hand-picked secretary of state,
Cardinal-elect Pietro Parolin, and Francis' close friend Cardinal Santos Abril
The other members include Cardinal
Christoph Schoenborn, archbishop of Vienna, and Cardinal Thomas Collins,
archbishop of Toronto.
On Feb. 16, 2013, just days after
announcing his resignation, Pope Benedict XVI confirmed the existing members of
the bank's supervisory body for another five years. The members included
Benedict's longtime deputy and secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone,
who was widely blamed for many of the Vatican's administrative shortcomings
during Benedict's papacy.
Francis has now essentially undone
Benedict's decree, relieving Bertone and the other commission members of their
jobs as he moves forward with his reform of the bank, formally known as the
Institute for Religious Works.
Over the summer, Francis named a
trusted friend, Monsignor Battista Ricca, to fill a vacant supervisory position
and appointed an independent commission of inquiry to look into the bank's
activities and legal status.
Those decisions were taken in the days
surrounding the July 1 ouster of the bank's top two managers and the arrest of
a Vatican accountant with several Vatican bank accounts on charges he plotted
to smuggle 20 million euros ($26 million) into Italy from Switzerland. The
accountant, dubbed "Monsignor 500" for the types of euro notes he
purportedly favored, is currently on trial in Rome on the smuggling charge and
is also under investigation in his native Salerno, a city in southern Italy, in
a money-laundering case involving his Vatican accounts.
Prior to that affair was the
controversial 2012 ouster of the bank's then-president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi.
The board accused Gotti Tedeschi of incompetence and failing to do his job.
And before that, in 2010, Italian
police seized 23 million euros from an IOR account and Rome prosecutors placed
the IOR's then-president, Gotti Tedeschi, and general director Paolo Cipriani
under investigation for alleged violations of anti-money laundering norms in
conducting a routine transaction from a Vatican account at an Italian bank. The
money was eventually unfrozen. Gotti Tedeschi was subsequently exonerated as a
suspect. Cipriani hasn't been charged.
In 2012, under pressure from the Bank
of Italy, U.S. bank JPMorgan closed its IOR accounts. And in December of 2012,
again under pressure from the Bank of Italy, Deutsche Bank Italia halted its
15-year term providing electronic payment services to the Vatican, leaving the
tiny city state cash-only for months.
The five-member Cardinal's Commission,
as it is known, names the lay board of the Vatican bank and its top two general
managers and makes sure they adhere to the bank's mission to administer money
for works of charity.