Pope Francis' trip to South America is supposed to be all about peace, unity and hope. But the pontiff could also be welcomed with protests, threats of violence and controversy over allegations of abuses by the Catholic Church. Argentina born Francis comes to his home continent for a two-country, six-city apostolic visit that starts in Chile this Monday and ends in Peru a week later.
The long-awaited meeting between Argentine President Mauricio Macri and Pope Francis ended up being a frosty encounter that lasted a mere 22 minutes. The Vatican officially described the sit-down as “cordial,” and Macri told reporters that the pontiff asked him to fight corruption, poverty and drug-trafficking in the country.
The Vatican bank has blocked the accounts of more than 2,000 clients and ended some 3,000 customer relationships as part of a clean-up process that nearly wiped out its profit, its 2013 financial statement showed on Tuesday.
Pope Francis named top laymen from the worlds of finance and economics to a new Vatican Council for the Economy, intended to improve scrutiny of the Holy See's scandal-plagued accounts.The creation of the 15-member council is a major step in bringing lay people into the Vatican, and reflects a drive by Francis to make changes to an establishment often seen as murky and secretive.
Pope Francis has taken his boldest step yet to overhaul the Vatican's scandal-plagued finances, creating a new department with broad powers to oversee all of its economic and administrative affairs, the Vatican announced on Monday. The Secretariat for the Economy will answer directly to the pope and will be headed by Australian Cardinal George Pell, currently the archbishop of Sydney.
Pope Francis shook up the scandal-plagued Vatican bank, removing four of five cardinals from an oversight body in a break with the clerical financial establishment he inherited from his predecessor. It was his latest move to get to grips with an institution that has often been an embarrassment for the Holy See and which he has vowed to either reform or close.
In a bid for transparency and reform, the Vatican bank openly published a financial report for the first time on Tuesday. But the report came amid new accounts of vague withdrawals and deposits made to and by the organization.
Pope Francis and his orthodox reform approach sets a new tone for a Vatican beset by scandals by naming a veteran diplomat as secretary of state, a role often called the “deputy pope”.
As part of the Vatican's ongoing efforts to ensure that all its financial activity complies with international standards, particularly those aimed at preventing money laundering and the financing of terrorism, Pope Francis has expanded the role and the reach of the Vatican's Financial Intelligence Authority.
The Vatican bank opened its web site www.ior.va on Wednesday as it steps up efforts to improve its tarnished image after a succession of financial scandals and repeated criticisms of its lack of transparency.