Pope Francis fires more Vatican bankers

Press Association
Pope Francis

Heads continue to roll at the Vatican Bank. It was announced on Thursday that Pope Francis fired all five of the Church's Financial Information Authority (AIF) directors.

The firings are the latest in a series of changes in the Vatican's financial sector.

Pope Francis replaced the Italian directors with a diverse group of financial experts from the U.S., Switzerland, Singapore, and Italy. A Vatican source said that AIF attorney Rene Bruelhart wanted to lead a more progressive team. For the first time, there is a female on the board, Maria Bianca Farina.

"Bruelhart wanted a board he could work with and it seems the pope has come down on his side and sent the old boy network packing," the source told Reuters.

In March, Pope Francis closed several Vatican Bank accounts that he found were unrelated to its mission to "serve with prudence and provide specialized financial services to the Catholic Church worldwide." In February, he enacted multiple accountability requirements, and established a new overseer position, Secretariat for the Economy.

Four out of the five Institute for Works of Religion cardinals were fired in January, just 11 months into their five-year terms. The dismissals were the current administration's means of cleaning house after years of allegations of money laundering, smuggling, and other illegal activity.

Also in January, senior Vatican Bank accountant Monsignor Nunzio Scarano was charged with money laundering on top of charges of conspiring to smuggle over $20 million from Italy to Switzerland that he was already on trial for. Several senior Bank officials resigned in the wake of Scarano's July 2013 arrest, and two have been charged with money laundering.

At a summit organized at Pope Francis' behest in March, a common theme was the dangers of greed. The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life Secretary Archbishop, José Rodríguez Carballo, was one of the speakers at the event.

"Those who do not renounce wealth cannot be disciples [of Jesus]," he said, "the poor man who lives in solidarity with the poor."

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