In an interview with Vatican Radio, Ernst von Freyberg, the newly appointed president of the Vatican’s Institute for Religious Works (IOR), spoke on the challenges faced in dispelling myths surrounding the organization in recent months. Mistakenly referred to by many as the “Vatican Bank”, the IOR “administers the assets of Catholic institutions who aim to further a religious and charitable apostolate at an international level.”
In discussing his duties, von Freyberg stated that they are different that what he initially imagined when he first began, saying that dealing with improper deposits or what he calls “cleaning out” was not the biggest issue facing the IOR.
“Our biggest issue is our reputation,” he said. “Our work, my work, is much more communication than originally thought. And it is much more communication inside the Church. We haven’t done enough of that in the past. It starts at home, with our own employees, with those who work for the Church in Rome, with those in the Church around the world. To them we owe first of all transparency and a good explication of what we do and how we try to serve.”
The president of the IOR spoke candidly on his initial thoughts when asked to head the IOR, which he admittedly said he did not want to do. “It is not something you sit at home and dream of. Even when you interview you dont say to yourself ‘I really want this job.’
“Once you are here you find, that it is actually a good experience, that it is much less fraught with complications and with internal problems than one would expect from the outside.”
Regarding the incorrect labeling of the IOR as the “Vatican Bank”, von Freyburg stated that the mission of the institute is two-fold. First, to safeguard deposits from entities related to the Holy See such as congregations, clergy and Vatican employees and second, payment services that allow “transferring funds wherever their activities are”
”We are not a bank,” von Freyberg said. “We do not lend money, we do not make direct investments, we do not act as financial counterparts so you cannot get a swatch or a hedge from us. We do not speculate in currency or commodities, our core is we receive money as deposits and we then invest it in government bonds, some corporate bonds and in the inter-banking market where we deposit with other banks, for a slightly higher interest rate than we receive in order to be able to give it back to our customers whenever they want it.”
Concluding his interview, von Freyburg expressed his hope that at end of his term in 2015, the IOR can be viewed in a positive light than it has in recent months.
“My dream,” von Freyberg told Vatican Radio, “is a very clear one. My dream is that our reputation is such that people dont think of us any more, when they think about the Vatican, but that they listen to what the Pope says.”
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On the NET:
For the full text of Vatican Radio’s interview, go to: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/05/3/interview_with_ior_president,_ernst_von_freyberg/en1-696987