June 10, 2013

In the popular imagination, the Vatican bank is so shady that even the German businessman appointed its president in February thought his task would be "cleaning out and dealing with improper deposits."

But Ernst von Freyberg, president of the Institute for the Works of Religion, the formal title of the bank, told Vatican Radio and several other news outlets that it turns out "our biggest issue is our reputation."

Von Freyberg said: "My dream is that our reputation is such that people don't think of us any more when they think about the Vatican, but that they listen to what the pope says.

"When I came here I thought I would need to focus on what is normally described as cleaning out and dealing with improper deposits," he said.

"There is – until now – nothing I can detect.

While the institute accepts the deposits of Church personnel and institutions, invests their money in bonds, pays them interest and will transfer their funds to projects around the world, it does not lend money and so is not technically a bank," he said.