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Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Vatican City, 1 October 2013 (VIS) – The Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR) today published its annual report for 2012 on its website, www.ior.va. It is the first report to be made public. The document, over a hundred pages long, reveals that in 2012 the IOR recorded a net profit of 86.6 million euros, a figure which enabled the Institute to make a contribution of 54.7 million euros to the budget of the Holy See. The report in itself is not a novelty, but rather the fact of its publication is; this constitutes a response to the demand for greater transparency in the Institute's activities, according to the president of the IOR, Ernst Von Freyberg, in an interview published today by Vatican Radio.

Von Freyberg explains that it is the first annual report published in the 125-year history of the IOR, and contains a description of its work, a summary of 2013 and the first eight months of 2013, statements from the supervisory board, from the commission of cardinals and from the prelate, and over sixty pages of detailed financial statements with a full audit statement from KPMG. “You do not have to be an accountant to understand these pages; if you read the introductory letter and the description of our business of 2012 and 2013 you will get a good idea of what the Institute for Religious Works is about'”.

With regard to the question of external auditing, included in the process of preparing the document, Von Freyberg reiterates that the IOR accounts have been audited for a long time by reputable international accounting firms, such as KPMG in 2013, and insists that this is not unusual; the novelty resides in the publication of the report. “The most surprising thing is how unsurprising it is. You see a rather conservatively managed financial institution safeguarding assets, investing in very conservative investments like government bonds and bank deposits. And you will see a highly capitalised institution. At the end of last year our equity ratio was 15% which is way above what comparable financial institutions would have”.

Von Freyberg emphasised that the publication of the report was “a key element” in the IOR's policy of transparency. “Since March this year we have embarked on a strategy based on three pillars. One is to reach out to the media and engage in a direct and open dialogue, telling the facts as they are in a systematic way. We now have a spokesperson's office for the IOR. The second element is to create a website which can serve as an authoritative source of facts about the Institute. The third element is to publish the annual report”.

For Von Freyberg the report is intended primarily for the “one billion Catholics in the world who have a right to know what this part of the Holy See does”. He added, “They also have a right to understand how we contribute to the wellbeing of the Church around the world. The second group is our partners, i.e. our correspondent banks who rely on us being a financially sound and well-managed business partner. The third group is the media, and financial analysts who may have an interest, and the public at large”.

With regard to the accounts and the general business of the IOR, the verdict is positive. “Since May we have employed the Promontory Group from the U.S. They are reviewing every single account and they are also doing special investigations for us. In addition and together with them we have reviewed our procedures for taking on clients and for dealing with clients to make sure that no money-laundering can happen at the Institute. All three projects have been going according to plan, we do have a new handbook, we do have new procedures, and we are also ready for inspection by third parties”.

Von Freyberg confirms that external help, in this case by the Promontory Group, is necessary for the IOR for two reasons. “The first is that you need someone with state of the art knowledge because he does these procedures time and again for different institutions in the world. The second is equally important. It is a lot of work. We have twenty to twenty-five people from the Promontory Group at any given day doing this work. We would not have these resources in house”.

The president of the IOR concludes that the publication of the report, represents “another step on the way to creating a compliant and transparent institution; the Holy Father will then decide later this year or next year in which exact direction he wants to send us. We have gone a long way on transparency and compliance, and the next important step is to look at our service to the client and see how we can improve the products we offer, the services we offer them”.


Vatican City, 1 October 2013 (VIS) – The “International Day of Older Persons” is celebrated today, 1 October, and the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (for Health Pastoral Care) has marked the event by publishing a message from its president, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, entitled “The value of the life of the elderly”.

This international day”, the prelate writes, “constitutes an important occasion, destined to assume ever greater relevance, considering that there estimated to be over 600 million older people in the world, and that the progressive ageing of the world population could, within a decade, bring this figure to over a billion elderly people. Therefore we are all called to collaborate everywhere, Christians and persons of good will, in the pursuit of a juster and more equitable society, enriched also by the effective participation of those who are at times considered 'not useful' or even as a 'burden', but who may instead offer a contribution based on the experience and wisdom acquired throughout life”.

In many societies in so-called 'rich' countries, ensuring that the elderly are and remain 'co-protagonists' in social life means, in addition, facing the reality of increasing longevity, due to various factors including the growth of knowledge in medical and scientific fields. This longevity cannot, therefore, simply be a question of greater survival time, but should rather be accorded its due value in a respectful and appropriate manner, starting with the wishes and characteristics of the elderly and considering the context to which they belong”, continued the archbishop.

Solidarity between the young and the elderly leads to the understanding that “the Church is effectively the family of all generations, in which everyone must feel at home, which must not be guided by the logic of profit and of 'having', but rather by that of gratuitousness and love. When during old age life becomes fragile, it never loses its value nor its dignity; everyone is wanted and loved by God, everyone is important and necessary. … In this way there enters the value of a specific pastoral care, which includes first and foremost the fundamental element of communion between generations. … It regards the promotion of a culture of unity: unity between generations, which must not regard each other as detached or indeed opposed; a vision of life that allows new generations to grow, immersed daily in this culture of unity, to which each person brings an indispensable contribution”.

Archbishop Zimowski emphasises that this form of pastoral care should be a pastoral 'of' rather than 'for' the elderly, as “the older person is not first of all the object of care and charitable pastoral attention, but rather a subject and potential agent of pastoral action”, and insists that “religious assistance to the elderly should, indeed, be a commitment made by the Christian community as a whole”. To this end, the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (for Health Pastoral Care) has organised an International Conference dedicated to “The Church in the service of the elderly patient: the care of persons affected by neurodegenerative pathologies”.

From a Christian perspective, indeed, old age is not the decline of life, but rather its fulfilment: the synthesis of what one has learnt and lived, the synthesis of how much one has suffered, rejoiced, and withstood”.


Vatican City, 1 October 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday, 30 September, the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti of Ravello, apostolic nuncio to Belarus.


Vatican City, 1 October 2013 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father:

- appointed Archbishop Joseph Spiteri as apostolic nuncio to Republic of Côte d'Ivoire. Archbishop Spiteri was previously apostolic nuncio to Sri Lanka.

- appointed Fr. Riccardo Ferri of the clergy of Massa Carrara-Pontremoli as prelate secretary to the Pontifical Academy of Theology. Fr. Ferri is a lecturer in theology, ordinary academic and council member of the Lateran Pontifical University.

- appointed Fr. Rafael Garcia de la Serrana Villalobos of the clergy of the personal prelature of Opus Dei as director of the Department of Technical Services of the Governorate of Vatican City State. Fr. Garcia de la Serrana Villalobos was previously vice director of the same department.

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Rockhampton, Australia, presented by Bishop Brian Heenan, upon having reached the age limit.

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Waterford and Lismore, Ireland, presented by Bishop William Lee, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
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