Pope creates, staffs committee to guide future investments

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis announced the first appointments Tuesday under his newly reformed Vatican bureaucracy, tapping a trusted cardinal and outside financial experts to serve on a new investment committee.

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, who leads the Vatican’s laity office and is also the “camerlengo” who runs the Vatican in between pontificates, will head the committee assisted by four experts from Britain, Germany, Norway and the U.S., the Vatican said in a note.

Among other things, Francis’ new reform calls for the creation of an investment committee to guarantee “the ethical nature of the Holy See’s securities investments according to the church’s social doctrine and at the same time their profitability, adequacy and risks.”

Its creation marks the pope’s latest response to a financial scandal that has rocked the Vatican for several years over its 350-million-euro investment in a London real estate venture. Vatican prosecutors have charged 10 people, including a cardinal, of defrauding the Holy See of tens of millions of euros.

During a new hearing in the trial on Tuesday, prosecutors questioned defendant Raffaele Mincione, a London-based fund manager, for a second day about his management of a fund that owned the London property. He denies wrongdoing.

Francis was elected on a mandate to reform the Vatican bureaucracy, and both the trial and his new blueprint reorganizing the Curia, which went into effect Sunday, are some of the tangible effects of that reform.

The pope is expected to make more appointments in the coming days and weeks to fill out some of the newly merged offices.

Separately Tuesday, the Vatican bank issued its annual report, recording an 18.1-million-euro net profit, down from the 36.4-million profit in 2020. The Institute for Religious Works, as the bank is known, said the profit was in line with expectations based on a new business model and conservative risk portfolio.