Europe

Pope Francis Replaces Vatican Bank Board


Pope Francis at the Vatican on Jan. 12

Photograph by Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis at the Vatican on Jan. 12

Pope Francis continues to scrub away at the stain of scandal and financial excess in the Vatican.

Earlier this week, he replaced four of five supervisory board members at the Vatican bank. He also halted the controversial practice of wealthy donors spending heavily to win special treatment for sainthood candidates.

Until now, rich backers of would-be saints have been able to speed up the canonization process by paying for expedited investigations of their lives—a practice that recalls the selling of papal indulgences in times past. But on Jan. 13, Cardinal Angelo Amato, who heads the office that oversees canonization, said the Vatican would place a cap on spending in support of each candidate. The move is intended to create “simplicity and fairness” in the process, he said in a speech at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome.

Since taking office last March, Pope Francis has repeatedly called for a more-austere, less-materialistic Church. In October, he suspended a German bishop who built a €31 million ($43 million) residence. And in July, he removed the Vatican bank’s longtime director and deputy director as part of a drive to clean up allegations of corruption and money-laundering at the bank.

In the latest Vatican bank shakeup, the pope removed four cardinals from its supervisory board, including Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who had been Pope Benedict’s secretary of state. Francis replaced them with four senior clerics, including his new secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The Pope earlier named a trusted aide to help supervise the bank and appointed a special commission to investigate allegations of corruption and money laundering. The bank also is to begin publishing its financial accounts for the first time, and it has recruited Washington-based Promontory Financial Group to conduct a forensic review and screen the bank’s client relationships.

Matlack is a Paris correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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