Pope Francis Names Panel to Overhaul Vatican Finance Structure

Pope Francis set up a committee to overhaul the Holy See’s financial structure and improve its transparency following several corruption investigations.

The eight-member panel will propose solutions “to avoid the misuse of economic resources, to improve transparency in the processes of purchasing goods and services,” the Vatican said in a statement on its website today. It will also give advice on how “to work with ever greater prudence in the financial sphere,” according to the statement, which didn’t mention the Vatican Bank by name.

The bank’s director Paolo Cipriani and deputy director Massimo Tulli stepped down July 1. Their resignations followed the arrest on June 28 of a senior Vatican cleric in a corruption investigation that’s part of a wider probe into the bank’s transactions. On July 10 the Vatican said it may extend its probe of suspicious bank transactions to people beyond Nunzio Scarano, the prelate arrested. Scarano’s funds were frozen at the IOR.

In 2012 the Holy See, the Vatican’s central administration, posted a profit of 2.19 million euros ($2.83 million) even as donations from Catholics throughout the world fell, according to a July 4 statement. Last year’s earnings compare with a 14.9 million-euro deficit in 2011, the Holy See said today in a statement. The Vatican bank, formally known as Institute for the Works of Religion or IOR, last year gave the Pope a contribution of 50 million euros, the Holy See said.

The new body set up by the pontiff will be led by Joseph FX Zahra, currently chairman of Middlesea Insurance Co Ltd. It will hold its first meeting “shortly after” Francis’s return from a visit to Brazil that begins July 21, according to today’s statement.