The Vatican Bank tries to overcome a dark past and the smell of money.
“Some say that, perhaps, it’s best that it be a bank, others that it be an aid fund, others say to close it”, was how Pope Francis referred to one of the Catholic Church’s main worries, which troubled the last years in office of his predecessor, Benedict XVI.
The Pope was obviously referring to the Institute of Religious Works, better known by its acronym IOR, and often inaccurately dubbed the ‘Pope’s bank’. It appears that Francis was elected pope as a direct consequence of the IOR’s troubles, which is paradoxical, given Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s well-known disdain for money.
In the cardinals’ preparatory meetings before the recent papal conclave, the bank, mired in scandals and shady dealings, generated one of the most heated discussions, especially for the Americans, who to some degree ‘masterminded’ the election of Francis.
Financial transparency is dogma for the American Catholic Church, imbued as it is with liberal thinking. Some bishops, like Cardinal Edmund Casimir Szoka of Detroit, have even shut down economically strapped parishes as if they were failed businesses.