* Pope holding week of meetings on reforms with top Church
* Vatican says no decision taken on future of
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY, Feb 18 A commission looking into
the Vatican bank briefed Pope Francis and top cardinals on its
findings on Tuesday ahead of a papal decision about what to do
with the institution that has embarrassed the Holy See for
The Vatican commission, which the pope set up in June, gave
Francis and his eight-member advisory board of cardinals from
around the world a three-hour briefing.
Afterward, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said
no decisions on the bank's future had been taken.
He said the commission gave the pope and the cardinals an
"ample and detailed" report on the current and past situation of
the bank, and had offered "several possible indications" on its
Lombardi would not give any details. "We are waiting for
indications from the pope," Lombardi said.
The pope has not ruled out closing the bank altogether if it
cannot be reformed and has said he wants the Vatican to adhere
to international standards of financial transparency.
There have been suggestions that a new ministry may be set
up in the Vatican to deal with all of its financial matters,
which are now handled by the bank and several other departments.
The eight cardinals from Italy, Chile, India, Germany,
Democratic Republic of Congo, the United States, Australia and
Honduras are advising Francis on how to reform the Curia, the
Vatican's often dysfunctional central administration.
The bank, formally known as the Institute for Works of
Religion (IOR), has been hit by scandal numerous times over the
Italian banks stopped dealing with the Vatican bank in 2010
after the Bank of Italy told them they had to enforce strict
anti-money laundering criteria.
MONEY LAUNDERING CHARGES
That year, Rome magistrates investigating possible money
laundering froze 23 million euros ($31.15 million) held by the
IOR in two Italian banks. The IOR said it had merely been
transferring its own funds between accounts in other countries.
The money was released but the investigation continues.
IOR president Ernst von Freyberg, a German hired last year,
has been spearheading a wide programme of reforms at the bank,
which serves Catholic institutions, clerics, employees or
former employees of Vatican City, and embassies and diplomats
accredited to the Holy See.
The IOR has been closing accounts held by persons or
institutions outside those categories.
Last month Moneyval, a monitoring committee of the Council
of Europe, gave the Vatican and its financial regulators a
mostly positive assessment but urged more controls over the IOR.
The IOR was thrust back into the spotlight last month when
Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, a former Vatican prelate on trial for
an alleged plot to smuggle 20 million euros into Italy was
further charged with laundering millions through the bank.
The IOR's top two managers resigned in July, several days
after Scarano was first arrested. Since then, relations between
the Vatican and the Italian magistrates, which has often been
thorny in the past, has improved dramatically.
Italian investigators have thanked the Vatican for "fully
collaborating" on the Scarano case.
Pope Francis has a packed week of meetings about reform with
top Church officials who are in Rome for ceremonies this
Saturday when the pope will create 19 new cardinals from around
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Tom Heneghan)