Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis has set up a "Commission of referral into the Institute for Works of Religion" (IOR), in order " to learn more about the juridical position and activities of the Institute to enable better harmonization of said Institute with the mission of the Universal Church and the Apostolic See, in the more general context of reforms that should be carried out by the institutions that aid the Apostolic See".
Established - "having heard the opinion of several cardinals and other brothers in the Episcopate, as well as other collaborators" - the 24th of this month with a Chirograph (signed document), which reads, the Commission "is invested with the power and authority pertinent to the performance of its official duties ", it "will gather the documents, data and information necessary for the performance of its official duties. Professional secrecy and any other restrictions laid down by the juridical system will not inhibit or restrict access of the Commission to documents, data and information, subject to the rules that protect the autonomy and independence of the Authority engaged in supervision and regulation of the Institute, which shall remain in force. "
Beyond the legal terminology, what the Pope has done is to create a Commission of inquiry in order to verify if the activity of what is commonly known as the Vatican Bank is in line with "the invitation of Our Predecessor Benedict XVI to allow the principles of the Gospel permeate activities of an economic and financial nature. "
The Institute ( photo: IOR headquarters) has a troubled financial history and has been called into question on several occasions - sometimes even without concrete reasons - involved in economic scandals and most recently in the Vatileaks case. This makes it one of the issues that recent Popes have had to tackle and which troubles many members of the Church. Not by chance it was discussed, most recently, during the Congregations that preceded the election of Francis.
In fact, his plan to renew the "soul" of the Roman Curia, seems to be to immediately tackle one of the "thorny" issues. On 24 April, during the morning Mass celebrated in Casa Santa Marta, which was attended by some employees of the IOR, referring to their presence he once said that "everything is necessary, offices are necessary ... ok ! but only up to a certain point: as support system to this story of love, "which is the Church.
And a few days ago, on June 15, the Pope named Msgr. Ricca Battista new prelate of the IOR. The post, vacant for two years, is a role entrusted to the bishop as a "link" and "intermediate" between the Board of Supervisors, composed of cardinals and presided over by Card. Tarcisio Bertone and the Board of Superintendence (the operational management) chaired by Ernst von Freyberg. The choice of Msgr. Ricca seems to have been a totally personal one made by Francis and connected to his choice of residence at the Casa Santa Marta hotel, of which the bishop is the director.
The Pope's document, specifies that " The Commission shall rely upon the willing cooperation of the Bodies of the Institute along with its entire staff. In addition, the Superiors, Members, and Officials of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia and the other agencies related to it as well as the Vatican City State shall likewise cooperate with the Commission".
The Commission is chaired by Card. Raffaele Farina, and includes Card. Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran, Msgr. Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru, who is the coordinator, Msgr. Peter Bryan Wells, who acts as secretary and Mary Ann Glendon.
To confirm the direct interest of Francis, who in the document uses plural nous, he states that " The Commission shall keep Us informed of its proper activities in the course of its work The Commission will deliver to Us the results of its work, as well as its entire archive, in a timely manner upon the conclusion of its task". Meanwhile, the Institute will continue to operate according to their own rules "except as otherwise provided" by the same Francis. (FP)