VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis' new commission of inquiry into the troubled Vatican bank has a brand-new money-laundering case to look into: how a Holy See monsignor withdrew more than a half-million euros in charitable donations from the bank without any flags being raised, walked out of Vatican City with the cash, and then used the money to pay off his personal mortgage.
The case is just one example of how shortcomings at the Institute for Religious Works, or IOR, have sullied the Vatican's reputation in international financial circles and made it a target for Francis' reform campaign.
Francis yesterday announced the creation of a commission to look into the IOR's activities and legal status "to allow for a better harmonization with the universal mission of the Apostolic See," according to the legal document he signed creating it.
It was the second time in as many weeks that Francis has intervened to get information out of the IOR, a secretive institution. On June 15, he filled a key vacancy in the bank's governing structure, tapping a trusted prelate to be his eyes inside the bank.
Francis named five people to the commission, including two Americans. American cardinals were among the most vocal in demanding a reform of the Vatican bureaucracy in meetings outlining the priorities for the new pope in the run-up to the March conclave that elected Francis.
The demands were raised after revelations in leaked documents last year that told of dysfunction, petty turf wars and allegations of corruption in the Holy See's governance.
Francis, who has made clear he has no patience for corruption and wants a "poor" church, has already named a separate commission of cardinals to advise him on the broader question of reforming the Vatican bureaucracy as a whole. -- AP