Pope Francis has begun a personal fight against financial corruption, unethical funding and money laundering within the Vatican Bank, after issuing a new decree calling for stricter regulation.
The Holy See is determined to stop money laundering, terrorism funding and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, by increasing the control over the bank’s operations.
The newly-formed committee on financial security will be led by Monsignor Peter Brian Wells and will have the duty to control the operations of the bank, trying to prevent further unethical activity and corruption scandals.
Pope Francis promised he would work to reform the Vatican Bank, also known as the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), so that it adhered to international anti-laundering standards. This followed three arrests in June for fraud, slander and corruption.
Among the arrested was Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, who tried to smuggle money from Switzerland and will now be questioned by Italian authorities. The pope commented on the scandal on his way back from Brazil, saying, “He did wrong and he needs to be sanctioned. However, a tree that falls makes more noise than a forest that grows.
“In the Catholic church there are many people who love God, but there are also scandals. We had one recently: a money transfer of €10-20m to the Vatican. What a great favour he did to the church.”
Pope Francis calls for stricter controls over the IOR’s operations follow measures put in place by his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who in 2010 created the Authority of Financial Information to prevent illegal financial activity.