04/07/2014, 00.00
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Pope approves IOR reform, it will continue its "important mission" for the Church

Francis’ decision announced. "The valuable services that can be offered by the Institute assist the Holy Father in his mission as universal pastor and also aid those institutions and individuals who collaborate with him in his ministry".

Vatican City ( AsiaNews ) - Pope Francis has decided that the Institute for Religious Works (IOR) has an "important" mission "for the good of the Catholic Church, the Holy See and Vatican City State" and has therefore approved its reform. In short, the IOR (premises pictured) according to a statement from the Holy See Press Office, "will continue to serve with prudence and provide specialized financial services to the Catholic Church worldwide. The valuable services that can be offered by the Institute assist the Holy Father in his mission as universal pastor and also aid those institutions and individuals who collaborate with him in his ministry".

The Istitute's spokesman Max Hohenberg said Pope Francis' decision "represents a powerful endorsement of our very mission and the hard work accomplished over the past 12 months", who added that now " the priorities of the institution now are: complete its client screening by the summer of this year, improve its integration with other Vatican City State structures and introduce other "operational improvements".

The Pope's decision comes after many had advanced the hypothesis of the closure of the "Vatican Bank". The hypothesis was also based on some statements expressed by Francis himself. On April 24 last year, celebrating the Mass attended by IOR employees he said said: " But there are those from the IOR ... excuse me, eh! .. some things are necessary, offices are required ... ok! but they are necessary up to a certain point: as an aid to this love story. But when organization takes first place, love falls down and the Church, poor thing, becomes an NGO. And this is not the way forward." And on June 11, he commented that "St. Peter did not have a bank account". " I do not know - he said again returning from the trip to Brazil - how the IOR issue will end. Some say that perhaps it is better as a bank, others that an aid fund, others say close it down".

As to the proposed reform approved by Pope explains the Press  Statement reads: The proposal has been jointly developed by representatives of the Pontifical Referring Commission to the IOR (CRIOR), the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic- Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA), the IOR's Commission of Cardinals and the IOR Board of Superintendence and presented to the Holy Father by the Cardinal-Prefect for the Secretariat for the Economy with the consent of Cardinal Santos Abril Y Castelló, President of the IOR's Commission of Cardinals. It is drawn from information on the legal status of the IOR and its operations gathered by and presented to the Holy Father and his Council of Cardinals by CRIOR in February 2014".

"With the confirmation of the IOR's mission and at the request of Cardinal-Prefect Pell, the President of the Board of Superintendence, Ernst von Freyberg, and the management of the IOR, will finalize their plan to ensure that the IOR can fulfil its mission as part of the new financial structures of the Holy See/Vatican City State. The plan will be presented to the Holy Father's Council of Cardinals and the Council for the Economy".

"The activities of the IOR will continue to fall under the regulatory supervision of AIF (Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria), the competent authority within the Holy See and Vatican City State. In compliance with Motu Proprios of August 8th, 2013 and November 15th, 2013, as well as Law No XVIII on transparency, supervision and financial information which came into force on October 8th, 2013, a comprehensive legal and institutional framework has been introduced to regulate financial activities within the Holy See and Vatican City State. In that respect, the Cardinal-Prefect Pell has confirmed the importance of a sustainable systematic alignment of the legal and regulatory framework of the Holy See/Vatican City State with regulatory international best practice. Strict regulatory supervision and improvements in compliance, transparency and operations initiated in 2012 and substantially accelerated in 2013 are critical for the Institute's future". (FP)

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