October 1, 2013 9:30PM ET

Secretive religious institution aims for financial transparency amid allegations of scandal
Pope Francis
Vatican City
vatican bank
A view of the Institute for Religious Works, the Vatican bank, in Vatican City.

The Vatican published its first financial report in its 125-year history Tuesday, amid allegations of money laundering and other financial scandals. The aim, insiders say, is to increase transparency at the secretive institution.

The Institute for Religious Works (IOR), the Vatican bank, rose more than four-fold in 2012 as net trading income rebounded from a loss in 2011, the report said. The IOR said it earned a net profit of $117.2 million in 2012, as compared with its 27.4 million net profit in 2011. More than $67.7 million of its 2012 profit was given to the pope for his charitable works.

The picture may not be so rosy for 2013, with rising interest rates cutting into profits and millions of dollars earmarked for the IOR’s ongoing transparency process, which has involved hiring outside legal, financial and communications experts to revamp its procedures, review its client base and remake its image.

“Overall, we expect 2013 to be marked by the extraordinary expenses for the ongoing reform and remediation process, and the effects of rising interest rates,” bank president Ernst von Freyberg said in a statement.

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