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Vatican bank makes annual report public for 1st time

Catholic World News - October 01, 2013

The Vatican bank, the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), has published its annual report for the first time.

The 100-page report, which includes a full audit statement, shows that the IOR holds about €7.1 billion in assets, and realized a profit of €86.6 million in 2012, of which €54.7 million was given as a contribution to the Holy See. Ernest Von Freyburg, the president of the IOR, explained that the annual report was being made public for the benefit of the “1 billion Catholics in the world who have a right to know what this part of the Holy See does.” Secondarily, he said, the public report should be reassuring to the IOR’s financial partners.

“You see a rather conservatively managed financial institution safeguarding assets, investing in very conservative investments like government bonds and bank deposits,” Von Freyburg observed. The bank’s assets are invested primarily in bonds, with a relatively small proportion in stocks and other assets in real estate and other resources.

After years of criticism, the IOR also views the public report as “another step on the way to creating a compliant and transparent institution,” Von Freyburg said. The bank’s report anticipates large expenses in 2013 for “the ongoing reform and remediation process,” which has included the use of outside consultants to design safeguards against money-laundering.

Commenting on the report, Von Freyburg acknowledged that Pope Francis has asked a panel of experts to study the IOR and suggest how it could best serve the Church. The IOR president said that “the Holy Father will then decide later this year or next year in which exact direction he wants to send us.”

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