Pope Francis to review Vatican bureaucracy and its scandal-ridden bank

April 2, 2013

(St Peter Basilica is seen over Sant’Angelo bridge on the Tiber river in Rome December 12, 2008. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

Pope Francis, who has said he wants the Catholic Church to be a model of austerity and honesty, could restructure or even close the Vatican’s scandal-ridden bank as part of a broad review of its troubled bureaucracy, Vatican sources say.

Francis, who inherited a Church mired in scandals over priests’ sexual abuse of children and the leak of confidential documents alleging corruption and infighting in the Vatican’s central administration, is mulling his options as he sets the tone for a reformed and humbler Holy See.

One of the tests of his papacy will be what he does about the bank which has regularly damaged the Vatican’s image over three decades and faces growing calls for reform.

Last year a European anti-money laundering body found that the bank – formally called the Institute for Works of Religion and known by the Italian acronym IOR – had failed to meet some of its standards on fighting financial crimes.

“Certainly if the pope wants to, he can close the IOR,” said a senior Vatican official, a prelate who had years of experience of directly dealing with the bank. The future of the IOR was one of main issues Francis would have to confront now that the whirlwind of his surprise election was slowing, he said.

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