Benedict seeks German as God's new banker

As Benedict's makeover of the Vatican bureaucracy gathers pace, sources say that the Pope has sounded out the former head of Germany's central bank for the key post as head of the Institute for Religious Works, better known as the Vatican Bank.

The Times Online reports that Hans Tietmeyer, who headed the Bundesbank from 1993 to 1999, studied theology before switching to economics and is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. He has two brothers who are priests.

Dr Tietmeyer would succeed Angelo Caloia, an Italian banker brought in 15 years ago by Pope John Paul II to "clean up" the Institute for Religious Works after scandals linking it to Mafia financiers.

Born in 1931, Dr Tietmeyer, who has been linked with the ecumenical Christian businessmen's organisation, UNIAPAC, is said to be regarded as a leading expert in international financial matters.

An earlier attempt to replace Signor Caloia with Herr Tietmeyer in 2000 was thwarted by the Italian's allies, including Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul II's private secretary.

Pope Benedict, however, is said to favour a fellow German at the helm of the Vatican's finances, the Times believes. "The war for the succession to God's Banker is on," Panorama magazine said.

Vatican finances are also being reshuffled. It emerged last week that the Congregation of the Children of the Immaculate Conception, based in Rome and subject to papal law, has bought a Pfizer drug unit.

Nerviano Medical Systems (NMS), one of Europe's largest oncological research centres, is dedicated to developing anti-tumour drugs. Bankers believe that the Congregation may seek a stock market listing for NMS in the future.

The change at the Vatican Bank would be part of a wider reshuffle at the Vatican. On Wednesday Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Secretary of State, the equivalent of a Prime Minister, is replaced by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Archbishop of Genoa and the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's deputy at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The Pope has also drawn up a short list of potential successors to Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo - who in June was named the new governor of Vatican City - as Vatican Foreign Minister and Cardinal Camillo Ruini as Vicar of Rome and head of the Italian Bishops, according to the Times report.

Pope Benedict's priority on returning from his trip to his German homeland this week is to reshape his top team, a year and a half after his election.

Vatican finances have moved healthily into the black, with the Holy See marketing images from its rich art collection and recording a profit from property and commercial investments.

Photo: World's only ATM in Latin at the Vatican Bank (Experience Latin with Fr Reginald Foster)

Pope looks to appoint new Vatican Bank head (Times Online, 11/9/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Hans Tietmeyer (Wikipedia)
Experience Latin with Fr Reginald Foster

Vatican banker Archbishop Marcinkus dead at 84 (CathNews, 22/2/06)

12 Sep 2006