August 10, 2019 marks an important phase in the reform of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR) wanted by Pope Francis. By decree signed by the pontiff’s own hand—a document bearing the name “chirograph,”—the Vatican bank drawn up new statutes, which are supposed to ensure greater transparency.
In the words of Andrea Tornielli, Editorial Director for the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, “the statutes thus renewed show a particular concern to ensure the renewal of the positions of management, audit, and observation” of the body managing the Vatican’s finances.
External Auditor and Renewal of Mandates
The first major change in this institution is the assignment of auditing to “an external commissioner, who may be a natural or a legal person,” a way for the Vatican Bank to comply with international standards in this area. This auditor, external to the IOR, will be appointed by a cardinal’s commission on the proposal of the Supervisory Board of the bank, and will carry out his mission for three consecutive years, his mandate being renewable one time.
The cardinal’s commission, which counts five red hats, as well as the observation council, composed of seven lay members, are appointed for a term of five years, renewable only one time.
The staff of the IOR will have to adhere to a code of ethics obliging them not to cumulate other participatory missions nor any activity external to that of the Institute. Through these measures set out in the statutes, the intent of the legislator is to avoid as much as possible the possibility of conflicts of interest, a charge that not long ago could have been formulated against the IOR.
Lastly, special attention is paid to the minutes of the meetings: the written reports must in future be systematically “faithful, precise, and complete.” They are read to be approved at the end of each meeting, and will be archived in a way so as to be always available.