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Vatican Bank (IOR): greater fidelity to its original mission

Vatican Media’s Editorial Director explains how the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR) is being renewed through greater attention to ethics, staff, time management, and the appointment of an external auditor.

By Andrea Tornielli

The renewal of the Statutes of the IOR represents an important step in the process of adaptation to the highest international standards. More importantly, it signifies a renewed fidelity to the original mission of the Institute for the Works of Religion, also known as the Vatican Bank.

One of the most significant innovations in this sense is in the definition of the role of the prelate. This is a key figure for maintaining contact with each component of the Institute, for ensuring the circulation of information, and for fostering relationships. In fact, the prelate now "maintains constant exchanges with administrators and employees", as well as "promoting the ethical dimension of their work" and preserving "the archive of the Commission of Cardinals". The office of the prelate can no longer remain vacant, something that has happened in the past.

Other important signs are represented by the greater emphasis on the peculiarity of the IOR, its being subject to canonical norms, and its being framed within the renewed Vatican legislative context, called for by Benedict XVI and completed by Pope Francis, with regard to matters of financial transactions, transparency, and anti-money laundering.

Significant attention is paid to personnel, too, with the request to adhere to the Code of Ethics approved by the Board of Superintendence. There are clear rules that prevent employees from holding double assignments, providing consultancy, or engaging in company participation. Theirs must necessarily be an exclusive employment relationship with the Institute.

The renewed Statutes show a greater attention to guaranteeing management responsibilities, control, and supervision. Members of the Commission of Cardinals and the Superintendence Board cannot be reappointed more than once. According to the previous regulations, the Director could remain in office indefinitely. As of now, they will have to retire at the age of 70, without the possibility of being reappointed. Moreover, the position of Deputy Director, once obligatory, is now described as "possible".

Finally, there are two important structural innovations. The IOR’s current five bodies have been reduced to four. The internal auditors, who previously held a three-year mandate with unlimited renewable, are no longer included. On the other hand, the Statutes provide for an external auditor to be appointed by the Commission of Cardinals following the proposal of the Board of Superintendence. The external auditor will carry out their task for a period of three consecutive years, with the possibility of a single renewal.

The second new feature is an increase in the number of members of the Superintendence Board. Previously five members, there will now be seven. This decision makes it easier for the members of the Board to fulfil their responsibilities, even if they are divided into advisory committees according to the subject matter being dealt with. The work of the Board is also facilitated by being able to participate in meetings remotely, if necessary, using telecommunications.

10 August 2019, 12:00