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Pope endorses Vatican bank reforms

AFP , Monday 7 Apr 2014
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Pope Francis on Monday offered a public endorsement of the Vatican bank, dispelling rumours of a possible dissolution of the scandal-tainted institution which is now on a path of greater transparency and reform.

"The Holy Father has approved a proposal on the future of the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR), reaffirming the importance of the IOR's mission," the Vatican said in a statement.

"The IOR will continue to serve with prudence and provide specialised financial services to the Catholic Church worldwide," it added.

Bank spokesman Max Hohenberg said the announcement "represents a powerful endorsement of our very mission and the hard work accomplished over the past 12 months".

Hohenberg also said the bank would 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 IOR handles accounts for Catholic congregations, Vatican officials and clergy men and women worldwide, as well as for Vatican-accredited diplomats.

The bank had around 6.3 billion euros ($8.6 billion) in assets and 18,900 customers in 2012.

Two former directors of the bank face trial for money laundering later this year and a top Vatican accountant is also on trial in a separate case for allegedly trying to smuggle money through Vatican bank accounts.

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