The last act: Vatican bank appointment


Controversy seems certain to follow Pope Benedict XVI right to the very last. On Tuesday, Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said that the Holy See was about to appoint a new governor of the Vatican Bank, IOR.

Asked about this the next day, Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi confirmed that the appointment was imminent, adding that it would go ahead despite the resignation announced last Monday by the pope. In effect, this means that the last major appointment of Benedict’s pontificate will be that of a new head for IOR.

Given the controversy that has surrounded IOR since the scandalous early 1980s days of Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, Roberto Calvi and the Banco Ambrosiana, events at the bank tend to come in for a lot of scrutiny. With Benedict due to step down in two weeks, is it really necessary to confirm this appointment now?

Why not wait until the new pope has taken office and let him choose his own man? Or is this just another case of insensitive bad timing by the Holy See, given that this appointment comes at the end of an eight-month selection process?

The bank has been without a president since last May when Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was removed, following board room disagreements.

Were those disagreements prompted by Gotti Tedeschi’s style of governance or did they come about because he was thwarted in his attempts to clean up the Vatican bank?

Were those thwarted attempts the real reason for the hurry to appoint a new governor, an appointment much sponsored by secretary of state Cardinal Bertone?