Pope Francis said he believes questioning of the five suspended employees will begin within a month or two, and stressed the importance of the presumption of innocence.
“It’s a bad thing, it’s not good what is happening in the Vatican. But it was clear that the internal mechanisms are beginning to work, those which Benedict XVI had already begun to make,” he said.
“And I thank God. I do not thank God there is corruption, but I thank God that the Vatican monitoring system is working well.”
On the papal flight, the pope was also questioned about wider issues facing the AIF, which was recently suspended by the Egmont Group, through which 164 financial intelligence authorities share information and coordinate their work.
The suspension of Di Ruzza, the recent resignations of AIF’s president René Brüelhart, and AIF board member Marc Odendall were all noted during questions.
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Pope Francis confirmed that Di Ruzza is still suspended, despite a press release from the AIF last month that affirmed the agency’s full confidence in him and expressed hope that the matter would be “clarified soon.”
Di Ruzza was suspended because of suspected “bad administration,” the pope said, adding that “it was AIF that did not control, it seems, the crimes of others. And therefore [it failed] in its duty of controls. I hope that they prove it is not so. Because there is, still, the presumption of innocence.”
While the concerns of the Egmont Group were “a bit disturbing,” Francis said, the group is not an official international body and issues of sovereignty had to be considered.
Egmont is a “private group,” the pope noted, adding that “MONEYVAL will carry out the scheduled inspection for the first months of the next year, it will do it.”
Concerning the recent resignation of AIF’s president, Rene Brülhart, the pope said he had found a replacement of “the highest level, in juridical and economic terms, national and international,” and that after his return to Rome work with and at AIF would continue.
Pope Francis was asked how the international financial community, and Catholics, can have a guarantee that Vatican financial reform will continue to advance and not return to bad “habits of the past.”
The pope said that reports of corruption coming from inside the Vatican are a sign that controls are working.
“To guarantee this? Look, it’s the first time ... it is discovered from the inside,” he said.
Pope Benedict XVI “began a process that matured,” he added, to the point where people had the courage to make a written report against the five suspended people.
Francis also noted that concerns about the Secretariat of State’s investments and the AIF to one side, there was clear progress in financial reform in other Vatican institutions.
“The Vatican has made steps forward in its administration,” the pope said. “For example, the IOR [often called the Vatican Bank] today has the acceptance of all the banks and can act like the Italian banks, normal. Something which was not there a year ago.”
“There is progress,” said the pope.
Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.