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Pope Francis tackles troubled Vatican bank, launches inquiry

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pope Francis on Wednesday named a special commission of inquiry to investigate the Vatican bank and the money-laundering accusations that have tainted the financial institution for months.

The latest allegation of impropriety involves a senior Vatican official who is under investigation by Salerno, Italy, prosecutors for money laundering. Monsignor Nunzio Scarano has been placed on suspension while the allegations are vetted, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said Wednesday.

The naming of the special investigative body is the second time the pope has intervened in activities of the bank, which officially is called the Institute for the Works of Religion. On June 15, he filled an empty post at the bank's executive level with a trusted friend, calling on him to be his inside eyes and ears for board meetings and management decisions, The Associated Press reported.

The Vatican bank is noted for its secrecy, but the pope hopes his newly named commission open the doors "for a better harmonization with the universal mission of the Apostolic See," the document that created the body stated, as AP reported.

Francis named two Americans to the body — Monsignor Peter Wells and Mary Ann Glendon. Monsignor Wells is a leading representative in the Vatican Secretariat of State, and Mrs. Glendon is a Harvard law professor and former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, AP reported.

Members already have started gathering documents and data about the bank — and have special powers to bypass banks rules on privileged information, AP reported.

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