Pope Francis sets up special review of Vatican bank

Wednesday 26 June 2013 12.52
Pope Francis has urged great emphasis on removing an image of privilege from Church operations
Pope Francis has urged great emphasis on removing an image of privilege from Church operations

Pope Francis has set up a special commission to review the activities of the scandal-plagued Vatican bank to ensure that it operated in "harmony" with the mission of the Catholic Church, the Vatican said today.

The appointment of the five-member panel is the boldest move yet by Francis to get to grips with a bank that embarrassed the church for decades.

The panel includes four prelates and a female Harvard professor.

The Institute for Works of Religion as the bank is formally known, has long been tarnished by accusations that it has failed to meet international transparency standards intended to combat money laundering and tax evasion.

The Vatican said in a statement the commission would enable Francis "to know better the judicial position and the activities of the Institute to allow an improved harmonisation with the mission of the universal church".

It said the commission would have full powers to obtain all documentation and data necessary although the powers of existing regulators would not be affected.

Pope Francis has laid great emphasis on removing an image of privilege from Church operations and IOR's new president Ernst von Freyberg has begun a review of all its accounts and activities. Italian magistrates are investigating the bank on suspicion of money laundering, a charge the bank denies.