Vatican Bank releases unprecedented report, hopeful optimism returns
The bank is returning to its core mission
The veil of secrecy is coming down at the Vatican Bank with the publication of its first ever financial report. The report is part of a series of reforms aimed at increasing transparency and deterring illegal behavior within the institution.
The structure that houses the Vatican bank looks like a fortress, and until now has served as a fortress of secrecy.
Over $67 million of that 2012 profit was handed over to the Pope, for charitable works.
The financial projections for 2013 are much lower, because the bank has set aside millions to finance the investigation and overhaul of all of its systems, by order of Pope Francis. Bank president Ernst von Freyburg released a statement saying, "Overall, we expect 2013 to be marked by the extraordinary expenses for the ongoing reform and remediation process, and the effects of rising interest rates."
According to the 100 page report, the Vatican holds $55.9 million in gold, metal, and coins, also owns a real estate company, received two investment properties with $2.5 million in 2012. Although it is not supposed to operate like a bank, the report suggests that it does. The bank made $34.9 million in loans in 2012.
Vatican Bank is intended to manage assets for religious insurable institutions, ensuring that they have money to meet their obligations and grow. However, revelations made over the past year have demonstrated that the bank does operate just like an ordinary bank, but in secret. That secrecy has allowed some individuals to carry on dubious activities within its walls.
The new transparency is designed to prevent that from happening again.
There are several agencies looking into the Vatican, including a European banking commission known as Moneyval, the Rome police, and a committee established by Pope Francis himself with a broad permission to investigate anything and everything that is happening inside the bank. Even rules that normally protect confidentiality, and thereby corruption, do not apply to Pope Francis's investigation.
In all, while the news that the bank has been operating in an inappropriate manner in the past, it is very encouraging to see that reforms, spearheaded by Pope Francis, are going to make a positive difference in its operation. The bank will now remain committed to its core mission, which is to provide money and manage assets for charitable works and organizations.
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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