Keep reading to learn more about the order and what it means as the deadline approaches.
What is the Vatican bank?
The Vatican bank, also known as the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), isn't actually a bank. It’s a financial institution in Vatican City that reports to the Pope and a Commission of Cardinals. The IOR has over 14,000 clients, including the Holy See, its employees, various connected entities, religious orders, clergy, and Catholic institutions.
The IOR was founded by Pope Pius XII in 1942 to “provide for the safekeeping and administration of movable and immovable property transferred or entrusted to it by physical or juridical persons and intended for works of religion or charity."
Since 2013, Pope Francis has been looking into reforming the financial institution and appointed a Pontifical Commission to look into the matter.
The Vatican has been the center of several financial scandals.
The Vatican has had its share of financial scandals over the years. In 2019, Vatican prosecutors investigated a 350 million euro investment in a London luxury apartment by an ex-Secretary of State that went south. The Holy See lost tens of millions in fees and commissions to brokers in the investment deal, ABC News reports. The Vatican indicted 10 people, including a cardinal and former Vatican officials, on charges of embezzlement, abuse of office, extortion, and fraud in the deal.
The botched investment deal prompted Pope Francis to strip the Secretary of State of its control over investment funds and start a committee to oversee the ethics of all Vatican investments, Reuters reported.
Pope Francis wants all Vatican assets handled by one office.
Earlier this year, Pope Francis also decided to entrust the management of all Vatican assets to one office — the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), the Associated Press reports. The Vatican’s economy ministry issued a new investment policy that requires all Vatican departments to transfer their assets and investments to APSA via its accounts at the Vatican bank, AP reports.
Pope Francis’ Aug. 23 decree to have all assets moved to the Vatican bank will impact Holy See institutions, including the Secretary of State, which is known to have accounts in Swiss financial institutions, Catholic News Agency reports. The Swiss bank Credit Suisse was used in the controversial London building investment, CNA reports.
Vatican bank has been losing clients.
According to a Catholic News Agency article, the IOR has been losing clients over the past few years. In 2021, the Vatican bank had 14,519 clients, down 472 from 2020. Annual profits for the financial institution also saw a significant drop from $44 million in 2020 to just $19 million in 2021.