The Vatican is negotiating the imminent departure of Vatican Bank president Ernst von Freyberg, The Boston Globe reports.
Officials confirmed the move to The Globe on Monday, but disagreed as to whether it's a routine part of restructuring efforts or if alleged irregularities are involved.
While struggling to avoid impressions of a crisis, Vatican officials also find themselves playing down accusations in the Italian press that a shadowy 'Maltese lobby' led by economist Joseph F.X. Zahra of Malta, vice-coordinator of the new council, is attempting to take control of Vatican assets, presumably for motives of financial gain.
Speaking on background, Vatican officials insist the reports are either false or exaggeratd.
Officials not authorised to speak on the record said Mr von Freyberg's exit could be finalised as early as this week, following a meeting the Council for the Economy will hold Saturday. Eight cardinals, including Cardinal Daniel Di Nardo of Galveston-Houston, make up that body, along with seven lay members.
The leading candidate to take over at the bank, technically known as the Institute for the Works of Religion, is said to be French financier Jean-Baptise de Franssu, who served on a panel to study the Vatican's financial systems created by the Pontiff in 2013 and who currently sits on the Council for the Economy.
If so, observers may read it as a gain for Cardinal George Pell, an Australian tapped by Francis in February as his finance czar, since Zahra and de Franssu are seen as Cardinal Pell's allies.
Another shake-up looms at troubled Vatican bank (The Boston Globe)
Image: The Local, Italy