Pope Francis is in a housecleaning mood. This week's target is the Vatican Bank, where the pontiff fired four out of five cardinals running it:
Francis’ move essentially undid a decree issued last year by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who confirmed the Vatican Bank’s supervisory body for another five years, just days before announcing his retirement. The most high-profile figure sacked on Wednesday was Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Benedict’s secretary of state and the face of administrative woes of Benedict’s papacy.
Officially known as the Institute for Religious Works, the Vatican Bank plays an essential role in helping facilitate the Vatican’s role in confronting poverty worldwide. But it has also been connected with widespread corruption and money laundering.
Last July, a priest and Vatican accountant Nunzio Scarano — nicknamed “Monsignor 500&‥8243; because of his taste for 500-euro banknotes — was arrested and accused of smuggling nearly $30 million into Italy from Switzerland. In 2012, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was ousted as bank president after being accused of incompetence.
That's refreshing! A pope concerned with poverty who is unafraid to take on the corrupt bankers. He didn't stop with the firings either. According to Patheos, he delivered a fiery homily this morning about the price of scandal within the church. Here's a taste of it, via CNS:
"But are we ashamed? (There are) so many scandals that I don't want to mention them one by one, but we all know what they are. We know where they are," he said.
Without mentioning the sexual abuse of minors by clergy, the pope said some of these scandals "made us pay a lot of money. Good! One has to do this."
"The embarrassment of the church! But are we ashamed of these scandals, of these defeats of priests, of bishops, of laypeople?"
Rarely did any of the men and women who caused the church scandal have the Word of God rooted deeply in their lives, he said.
"They had a position within the church, a position of power, even luxuries. But not the Word of God," the pope said.
Maybe they liked to show off their cross or insignia, but they carried it around like the people of Israel carried the ark, he said, "without a living relationship with God and the Word of God."
Scandals hurt the holy and faithful people of God, who are hungry for "a hearty meal" -- the bread of life, he said.
"Poor people!" he said. "We don't give them to eat, in these cases -- the truth. And we even give them -- many times -- a poisoned meal to eat."
He practices what he preaches.