By Vatican News
Jean-Baptiste Douville de Franssu has been President of the Institute for the Works of Religion, or the Vatican Bank, since July 2014. This is his first interview since being appointed.
Reform of IOR
Together with the Director General of the IOR, Gian Franco Mammì, and under the supervision of the Commission of Cardinals, De Franssu has been carrying forward the reform of the Institute, as requested by Pope Francis: reforms that have brought the Institute into conformity with international norms and practices.
In the interview, the President of the IOR speaks about the recent investigation by the Vatican Judiciary that led to the suspension of four employees of the Secretariat of State and the Director of the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA), even though the interview was agreed upon before the case broke.
He explains that the investigation is not the result of internal tensions, but simply the action of public officials applying the law, and complying with their obligation to report anomalies found during daily operations. The President also specifies how "there is no attack on the FIA, nor even on the Secretariat of State”. No individuals or offices are under accusation, he says. The report was made against unknown persons for the protection of the institutions. The judiciary is currently investigating. “An element that must be taken for granted”, he adds, is that “presumption of innocence always applies".
Renewal of IOR
Commenting on the IOR's membership of the SEPA circuit (Single Euro Payments Area), de Franssu explains: "Today's IOR is completely renewed compared to just a few years ago, in terms of governance, internal controls, professional expertise available and services provided to customers. The results are satisfactory and today's objective is to continue, refine and perfect what has been done, especially for the benefit of customers. The reform, understood as constant improvement, continues. The direction of transparency and legality is never abandoned, never. And the customer is fully protected by our work".
Mission of IOR
Responding to a question about the mission of the Institute for the Works of Religion, the President explains: "The mission remains that of being at the service of the Church throughout the world. Let us not forget that today, with a single headquarters and a staff of just over 100 people, the IOR reaches 112 countries and that often, in geopolitically critical areas, lacking reliable and efficient financial services, it is the only reference for the Congregations that operate on the territory".
The work of the IOR
De Franssu denies any intention of changing the name of the IOR, and explains why religious Congregations can entrust the management of their savings to the Institute: first of all because “we respect the principles of the Catholic faith and the Social Doctrine of the Church”.
Secondly, “because our earnings (for 2018 profit of 17.5 million, ed.) go to the pastoral work of the Pope. It is therefore useful to reiterate that when a Congregation, or a client, works with the IOR, it makes a direct and concrete financial contribution to the work of the Holy Father and not to the exclusively economic logic typical of a bank”.
The President of the IOR concludes with a reference to the quality of Bank’s services, to its very low costs and to the ethical grids of its investments, saying they are “ever more accurate and complete to guarantee maximum adherence to ethical and Catholic principles".