Pope Francis provides financial transparency in the Vatican

For many decades, the self-regulated Vatican bank has been a source of scandal. However, this changed last week when Pope Francis revolutionized the place where the mafia has notoriously laundered money by proposing a document known as Motu Proprio.

A Latin term for “by his own initiative,” Motu Proprio enables Francis to make instant changes, which include replacing all of the bank managers and creating a Vatican finance ministry. According to Reuters, senior accountant for the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), Monsignor Nunzino Scarano will be held on trial for “plotting to smuggle millions of dollars into Italy from Switzerland to help rich friends avoid taxes.”

The Vatican has dismissed the charges.

Current Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, will lead the new ministry. The 72-year-old Pell, who is a key advocate in financial transparency, will move to Rome along with a whole new council. According to Catholic Online, the ASPA, who is in charge of financial holdings, will continue the responsibility in the Vatican bank.

Financial transparency is the act of disclosing and exposing financial companies – in this case, the Vatican bank – which averts bribery and corruption.

“The simplest and quickest solution would be for the Pope to just close the bank and transfer all church funds into the Italian banking system,” Thomas O’Brien, a religious studies professor at DePaul, said. “There’s really no compelling reason for the Vatican to be running its own financial institution these days.”

O’Brien believes that reforming the current institution requires clearing house, the settlement of services for financial commodities and identifying individuals who are clergy experts in international finance.

“(It is) not an easy task,” O’Brien said.

Francis, having only served since March 2013, has been a breath of fresh air in a church that had been slowly becoming outdated. However, his “outsider” status, as O’Brien described it, shows that he is not tightly aligned with the curial structures and their “minions”-in other words, the central governing body that regulates the Catholic Church.

Francis’ way of going about the system was unusually untraditional. The previously private and elite Catholic Church has now invited the outside world to analyze the Vatican’s finances.

However, this could prove difficult to achieve, considering how established the current Vatican Bank staff is. Another narrow constraint is the fact that the candidate replacement is quite small, which will make it difficult for the Pope to make a decision.

Taking a Robinhood stance, Francis has stated time and time again that the church should use its wealth to help others.

 “To his great credit, he recognized this and took the virtually unprecedented avenue of resigning the papacy so someone else could clean house,” O’Brien said

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