Vatican Bank Releases First Annual Financial Report

| by Will Hagle

The Vatican Bank has been making strides in its attempts to be financially transparent following numerous scandals surrounding the institution, and it recently furthered its efforts in that regard by publishing its first annual report. The bank is currently under investigation for money-laundering by prosecutors in Italy. 

The bank’s official name is the Institute for Religious Work, and its 100-page financial report demonstrates the Catholic Church’s massive holdings and earnings. In 2012, the bank made a profit of €86.6 million, or around $117.2 million. That large sum is a drastic comparison to the bank’s 2011 earnings, which hovered around 20 million euros. More than 50 million of the Vatican Bank’s 2012 earnings were given directly to the Pope for his charity work.

Paolo Cirpiani and Massimo Tully, the former heads of the Vatican Bank, resigned from their positions in July. Both Cirpiani and Tully are under investigation for money-laundering, and another Vatican accountant, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, is currently being prosecuted for attempting to smuggle 20 million euros from Switzerland to Italy without declaring the money at customs. The Vatican is doing its best to remain transparent in order to maintain their image during these investigations.

The bank maintains that it is “a unique financial institution aimed at managing assets for religious or charitable works,” according to ABC News, which speculates that this unique positioning allowed the institution to avoid standard banking regulations. Still, the bank has collected millions of euros in fees for its services, which include asset management for clients and the distribution of loans that acquire interest fees. 

In response to the accusations against the bank, Pope Francis has created a commission that is attempting to uncover the details surrounding its recent scandal. The new report details its initial financial findings.