- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 28, 2013

In an apparent sign that Pope Francis means business, the leading Catholic Church figure appointed his personal, top-ranking assistant to step into an inquiry of Vatican banking and Holy See financial transactions that he set up earlier this year.

The pope on Thursday named Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, his personal secretary, to serve as delegate to the two separate commissions he established months ago, to look into suspect financial dealings in the Vatican, The Associated Press reported.

The Vatican said, in a statement: Monsignor Xuereb was appointed for the purpose of “keeping his eye on the committees and keeping [the pope] informed … on their working procedures and possible initiatives.”

A spokesman for the Vatican, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, played down the purpose of the appointment, saying it was simply to expedite communications between the pope and the committee members. The commissions are supposed to present their findings to Pope Francis and to eight cardinals serving as advisers in the coming weeks, AP said.