Pope Benedict XVI has created a new financial authority in the Vatican to join the ‘fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.’

Pope Benedict's letter, which addressed ‘the prevention and opposition to illegal financial activity,’ comes three months after an investigation was launched into two senior figures at the Vatican bank.

'As of today, all organisations associated with the government of the Catholic Church... have become part of the system of juridical principles and instruments’ set up by the international community, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

Mr Lombardi said the Vatican was ‘committed’ to fighting illegal activities such as ‘the recycling of the profits of crime’ and ‘the financing of terrorism’ by adopting international rules ‘to prevent and combat these terrible phenomena.’

By promising to adhere to European rules on money-laundering laid down by the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation, the Vatican hopes to make it onto the ‘White list’ of countries compliant with strict financial controls.

The changes come after an investigation into the Vatican bank, also known as the Institute for Religious Works, for alleged violation of money-laundering rules.

In September, Italy's financial police seized €23m from IOR after the financial intelligence office at the Bank of Italy noticed two operations by the bank that it deemed suspicious.