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Pope Francis removes four cardinals in Vatican bank shake-up


Pope Francis continues his shake-up of the Catholic Church after sacking four cardinals from the Vatican Bank commission on Wednesday.

The move comes as the Holy Father tries to distance himself  from the structure left in place by Pope Benedict XVI, who appointed the cardinals just 12 days before he resigned.

However, just 11 months into their five year contract, former Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone SDB, Cardinals Odilo Scherer (Brazil), Telesphore Toppo (India) and Domenico Calcagno (Vatican) have all been let go following a series of scandals.

Only Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue,managed to hold onto his position on the five man team.

The others are set to be replaced by Cardinals Christoph Schönborn (Vienna), Thomas Collins (Toronto); Santos Abril y Castillo (St Mary Major) and Cardinal-designate Pietro Parolin (Secretary of State).

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Formally called the Commission of Cardinals overseeing the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), the new members of the group will meet in the coming days to elect a new President.

The changes come ahead of the first anniversary of the pontificate, marked by austerity and sobriety, underlined by his decision to give up the papal apartments in favour of a modest suite. However, scandal still looms over the Vatican.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was blamed by commentators and some church officials for lax oversight which some say led to a spate of scandals during Benedict's pontificate, including the leaking of some of the pope's personal documents by Benedict's butler. 

At the same time, an Italian investigation into alleged money laundering at the bank is still in progress. The bank denies the accusations. 

While the changes should see strong reform within the Commission, Francis has not ruled out closing the bank should they fail.