- (Photo: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi)
The Cardinals at Vatican bank were all replaced by Pope Francis except for one Wednesday. The Pontiff is continuing his theme of shaking up the Vatican by changing top cardinals that head various committees and organizations, including the bank, which has been beset by scandals and suspicion in recent years.
The Cardinals at Vatican bank that were replaced are Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the then secretary of state and the second-highest ranking official in the Vatican; Cardinal Odilo P. Scherer from Brazil; Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo of India; and Cardinal Domenico Calcagno of Italy. The only one left from the five-person team overseeing the bank is Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.
"It's not surprising," a Vatican official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The New York Times. "It has been in the works. It is a normal turnover. It is good for the working of the institution."
Pope Francis' timing has been anything but conventional, though. The Holy See disregarded Pope Benedict's decision to appoint all five men to new five-year terms, cutting their tenures short just 11 months into his appointment as Pope.
The team now overseeing the Vatican bank, known officially as the Institute for Works of Religion, includes Archbishop Pietro Parolin, who is also now the secretary of state, Santos Abril y Castillo of Spain, Christopher Collins of Toronto and Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna. Collins and Schoenborn in particular are from rich dioceses and have experience with financial affairs, according to Reuters.
The new appointees to the IOR along with the new president appointed by Pope Benedict, Ernst von Freyberg of Germany, are tasked with reforming the bank. Von Freyberg has closed many accounts and hired outside help in the Promontory Financial Group.
The bank's problems are many: an investigation into money laundering by Italian officials, a lack of internal controls and transparency, and the arrest of Monsignor Nunzio Scarano and subsequent resignation of deputy-director Paolo Cipriani last year July are just a few. However, since Pope Francis' ascendance, the IOR has been pushing towards significant change, and was commended for their efforts by European monitoring agency Moneyval.
The Pope has not ruled out closing the Vatican bank if lasting reforms don't take place.