Pope Issues Pink Slips to Entire Vatican Bank Board
Pope Francis continues to promote change in the Roman Catholic Church by encouraging financial reform. The most recent shake-up occurred in the Vatican’s finances. The Pope this week decided to do a financial housecleaning by firing the entire five-person board of the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency, created four years ago to provide oversight and regulation of the Holy See’s financial dealings, in addition to providing information to other countries in order to prevent money-laundering schemes from taking place. The Pope took the drastic action of sending all five of the all-Italian members of the board packing after repeated arguments surfaced that pitted board members against the director of the agency.
The Pope has replaced fired board members with four new members that better represent international interests. The new board members are financial experts coming from the United States, Singapore, Switzerland and Italy. For the first time in its history, there is a woman sitting on the Vatican Bank board. There had been so much contention recently among the old financial board members that Cardinal Attilo Nicora gave the Pope his resignation as President of the Financial Information Authority in early 2014.
The swift shake-up of the old financial guard was inspired in part by the urgings of Swiss attorney Rene Bruelhart, who has long recommended to Pope Francis that he make a clean sweep of the old guard that has held power for too long in order to promote an increase in transparency regarding the Holy See’s financial transactions and to guard against any repeat of money laundering activities that have tainted the Vatican Bank’s reputation in the past. Francis has also been working to reform the Vatican Bank by insisting that only Vatican employees, Catholic organizations, priests, nuns and religious institutions are allowed to open bank accounts.