The new statutes of the Institute for the Works of Religion will be valid for two years ad experimentum. Changes were necessary to adapt them to the needs of the times and use the collaboration and responsibility of experienced lay Catholics.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis announced the new statutes of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), valid for a two-year ad experimentum, in a chirograph (personally drafted document) that the Holy See Press Office published today.
Although often referred to as the "Vatican bank", the IOR is not strictly speaking a bank. According to the Pope, its purpose is to look after and administer all movable and immovable property transferred or entrusted to the Institute by natural or legal persons and destined for works of religion or charity.
The new statutes, which will come into effect tomorrow, the day of publication of the chirograph on the Osservatore Romano, include some changes within the governing bodies.
In general, the pontiff notes, the changes will help better adapt the Institute's structures and activities to the needs of the times, making particular use of the collaboration and responsibility of experienced lay Catholics.
The governing bodies include a five-member Commission of Cardinals (down from six) for a 5-year term, which can be renewed once. There is also a prelate charged with keeping track of the IOR’s activities, and acting as the Commission’s secretary.
A seven-member Board of Superintendence will be responsible for the Institute’s administration and management as well as for the supervision of its financial, economic and operational activities. Most members will be lay people.
Then there is the Directorate with a general director and possible a deputy director. The general director may be hired for an indefinite or fixed term.
Finally, the statutes provide for an external auditor to conduct statutory audits of the accounts, appointed by the Commission of Cardinals on the proposal of the Board of Superintendence, for a period of three consecutive financial years, renewable once.
In the past, the IOR found itself involved in financial and non-financial scandals, even suspected of being used for money laundering, without any proper supervision.
Starting in the 2010, the Institute underwent a series of reforms with the aim of making the structures and regulations more transparent.
At present, as the director of the Financial Information Authority (AIF) of the Holy See, René Brülhart, noted, the system appears to be "well in line with international standards" in the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.