VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis says he doesn’t want a “Vatican-centric” church concerned about itself but a missionary church that reaches out to the poor, the young, the elderly and even to nonbelievers. That’s the vision he laid out as he opened a landmark meeting Tuesday on reforming the 2,000-year-old institution.
Francis convened the inaugural meeting of his eight cardinal advisers for three days of brainstorming on revamping the antiquated Vatican bureaucracy and other reforms. The move fulfills a key mandate of the cardinals who elected him: They wanted a pope who would involve local church leaders in helping make decisions about the 1.2-billion-strong church.
The closed-door meeting began against the backdrop of one of the most tangible signs that change is already afoot: The secretive Vatican bank, under investigation for alleged money-laundering, released its first-ever annual report Tuesday, the latest step toward financial transparency championed by Francis and his predecessor, Benedict XVI.
Net earnings at the bank rose more than fourfold to $116.95 million in 2012, the report said. More than $67.6 million of that was given to the pope for his charitable works. Italian prosecutors said the bank’s clients may have used its lax controls to launder money. The bank’s two top managers have resigned and a Vatican monsignor has been arrested after trying to smuggle money into Italy from Switzerland.