Pope Francis has imposed a deadline of October 1, 2022 on all offices and institutions linked to the Holy See in Italy and around the world, to repatriate their assets to the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), the banking organ of the Vatican. A decision which aims to avoid future financial scandals, like the one that has affected the Secretariat of State in recent years.
“In everything there is only one principle,” writes Aristotle at the end of Book XII of his Metaphysics. A philosophical adage that now applies to Vatican finances: As of October 1, the Institute for the Works of Religion becomes solely responsible for the money of the Holy See.
Concretely, the decision taken by papal ruling signed at the end of the August 23, 2022 audience 2022 granted to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State of the Holy See, provides for the repatriation of all securities, accounts, and financial funds deposited in Italian or foreign banks.
Pope Francis' decree follows the decision taken earlier in the year to entrust the management of all Vatican assets to a single body, the Patrimony Administration of the Apostolic See (APSA), with the aim of putting an end to decades of mismanagement that culminated in the questionable investment of 350 million euros in a London property.
A financial scandal for which 10 people – including Cardinal Angelo Becciu, former substitute for the Secretariat of State, recently returned to favor with the Roman pontiff – are currently on trial before the tribunal of the Holy See.
In the past, the IOR has been singled out for its lack of transparency and questionable operations, but after a decade of trying to clean up the Augean stables, the 'Vatican bank' appears to have succeeded in shedding its reputation as an offshore tax haven.
Years of reforms have thus reduced its list of clients to Vatican offices, employees, religious congregations, and embassies.
Pope Francis thus shows his willingness to implement the reform of the Curia, sanctioned by the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium, promulgated on 19 March last and which came into force on June 5.
Although this document already contained the request for the transfer of funds to the IOR, many organizations had dug in their heels, hence the ruling signed by the Holy Father which, in theory, should make the most recalcitrant bend.
The leading role given to the IOR is in fact part of the policy of centralization, a key element of the reform which deprives all the dicasteries of the Holy See of the possibility of investing funds independently.
On October 1, the funds repatriated to the IOR will be added to the 5.1 billion euros in assets already available to the banking body, which declared 18 million euros in profit for the year 2021.