Italy and the Vatican have signed an agreement over exchanging financial and bank information to combat money laundering, the Vatican said today.

"The Holy See and the Vatican City State take international responsibilities concerning anti-money laundering and the financing of terrorism very seriously and Italy is an especially important partner for us," the Vatican said in a statement.

The Vatican has been struggling to reform its bank, the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), whose reputation has been tarnished by decades of financial scandals.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis said the troubled Vatican bank must become "honest and transparent" and that he will listen to the advice of a commission he has set up on whether it can be reformed or shut down altogether.

The pope made his first detailed comments on the scandal-hit bank in an 80-minute meeting with reporters on Sunday night on board his plane, shortly after leaving Brazil at the end of his first international trip.