A new president at the head of the Institute for Works of Religion

Filed under From Rome, News

Ernst von Freyberg.

German lawyer Ernst von Freyberg was appointed president of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) on February 15 last. The IOR had been without a president since Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was dismissed in May 2012. The decision was made by the IWR’s oversight commission of cardinals  following a “profound evaluation and a series of interviews lasting several months.”

During a press conference, Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Office, specified that there had been “40 candidates”. The IOR oversight commission, composed of four cardinals, made their choice in cooperation with the supervisory council, whose four members will maintain their positions. They are German Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz, VP of the IOR, American Carl Albert Anderson, Italian Antonio Maria Marocco, and Spaniard Manuel Soto. Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz, who was responsible for the president’s tasks in the interim following the departure of Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, said he was delighted by the appointment and spoke of a “great day.”

For several months now the Vatican has made a concerted effort to obtain recognition of the transparency of its financial institutions. In early July, Moneyval (the European Council’s panel of experts on money laundering) reported that the Vatican authorities had come “a very long way in a very short time.” (see DICI no. 259, 10/08/12)

In May 2012, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was superseded by a unanimous non-confidence vote passed by the four other members of the supervisory council. He had been president of the IOR since September 2009. His dismissal in mid-Vatileaks scandal caused some comment.  (see DICI 256, 08/06/12).

Born in 1958, Ernst von Freyberg is and will remain president of the Blohm-Voss group, which specializes in building yachts and warships. This latter activity has drawn fire. “It is a paradoxical choice,” stated among others Fr. Venanzio Milani, spokesman for the missionary press agency Misna in Rome, in an interview with news site www.infocatho.be. “We Combonian missionaries [of the Sacred Heart] fight against arms trafficking and we have campaigned against banks that finance the arms industry. And now we find ourselves with a president of the IOR who builds warships,” he said. The Blohm-Voss shipyards sought to quench controversy with an immediate press release announcing that the company would honour “a final military contract” to produce four German frigates, and would then “focus on boats for civilian purposes only, yachts and cruise ships.” For Fr. Federico Lombardi, spokesman for the Holy See, “the affair is now settled.”

Ernst von Freyberg is also a member of the Order of Malta and one of those in charge of the association within the diocese of Berlin that organizes pilgrimages to Lourdes. (Sources: kipa-apic.ch – Vatican Radio – imedia – DICI no. 272 dated March 15, 2013)

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