VATICAN CITY –– Pope Francis has approved the appointment of the new interim prelate of the Vatican bank, Msgr. Battista Mario Ricca, a Vatican diplomat who has been director of the guesthouse where the pope is living.
Msgr. Ricca was chosen by the commission of cardinals overseeing the Institute for the Works of Religion, the formal name of the Vatican bank. His appointment was approved by Pope Francis and made public by the Vatican June 15.
Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told journalists that the appointment is "temporary and not definitive" because the pope is still in a phase "of reflection" concerning permanent appointments within the Roman Curia.
Msgr. Ricca, 57, was born in the northern Italian province of Brescia. Before his new appointment, he was a member of the Vatican's diplomatic service and was head of four Vatican-run guesthouses including the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the guesthouse where Pope Francis resides.
Fr. Lombardi said the monsignor "is certainly a person who enjoys the trust of the pope."
As prelate, Msgr. Ricca will act as secretary of the cardinals' commission, attend meetings of the bank's board of lay supervisors, and guarantee "spiritual assistance" for the bank's employees and their family members, a Vatican press release said.
Fr. Lombardi said the monsignor with act as an "intermediary" between the cardinals' commission and the bank's board of supervisors, and he will be involved with the work and running of the bank.
Msgr. Ricca fills a role left vacant since 2010 when the then-prelate, Archbishop Piero Pioppo, was named apostolic nuncio to Cameroon and Equatorial New Guinea.
The monsignor will work with the bank's commission of cardinals, which is led by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, and includes: Cardinals Attilio Nicora, former president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See; Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Domenico Calcagno, current president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See; Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi, India; and Odilo Pedro Scherer of Sao Paulo.
The board of supervisors includes Carl A. Anderson, head of the U.S.-based Knights of Columbus, and three other laymen. The lay oversight board is headed by Ernst von Freyberg, the recently named president of the Institute for the Works of Religion, who was appointed by the cardinals' commission in February and approved by Pope Benedict XVI.
The Vatican bank has been working to revamp a marred image of secrecy and scandal with greater transparency.
Pope Benedict started implementing changes in 2010 to better monitor all of the Vatican's financial operations and make sure they reflect the latest European Union regulations and other international norms against money-laundering and the financing of terrorism.