World Bulletin/News Desk
Pope Francis named top laymen from the worlds of finance and economics on Saturday to a new Vatican Council for the Economy, intended to improve scrutiny of the Holy See's scandal-plagued accounts.
The creation of the 15-member council is a major step in bringing lay people into the Vatican, and reflects a drive by Francis to make changes to an establishment often seen as murky and secretive.
The seven non-religious figures in the council include Maltese economist Joseph Zahra, former director of the Central Bank of Malta, and France's Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, chairman of mergers and acquisitions advisory firm INCIPIT and former head of the European Fund and Asset Management Association.
Spanish University of Madrid economist Enrique Llano Cueto, German former McKinsey & Company partner Jochen Messemer, and Italian University of Messina Business Administration professor Francesco Vermiglio were also named members.
George Yeo, a former Singapore Finance Minister, was named alongside retired oil executive John Kyle.
The council includes eight prelates from around the world, coordinated by Munich and Freising Cardinal Reinhard Marx, known for speaking on socio-economic issues in Germany and one of the eight cardinals charged with re-organising the Vatican administration, the Curia.
In a statement, the Holy See made it clear that the body has policy-making powers and is not just an advisory board.
"The members appointed to the Council are from various geographical areas, reflecting... the universality of the Church," the statement read.
A series of scandals involving financial mismanagement have embarrassed the Church, including documents leaked by the former pope's butler and an investigation by Italian magistrates into allegations of money laundering at the Vatican bank, formally called the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR).
Francis, who called for a "poor Church, for the poor" after his election almost a year ago, has not ruled out closing the IOR, which handles funds for religious orders and Vatican employees.
President Obama said he would ask the U.S. Congress for $1.3 billion per year in military aid for Egypt and said he would lift holds on aircraft, missiles and tanks for Cairo in place since October 2013, the White House said in a statement.
German airline confirms co-pilot of crashed Germanwings plane informed company of severe depression episode.
Many tunnels have been discovered in Anbar province, an Iraqi govt official says.
According to the military assessments, between 1,000 and 1,500 rockets could hit Israel daily in the next full-blown conflict, killing hundreds of people and potentially paralysing key installations like airports, sea ports and power stations.
Election commission declares muslim candidate Buhari winner of Nigeria's presidential polls. He won 15,424,921 million votes.
Statement by Iraqi PM says Iraqi security forces captured western and southern parts of Tikrit.
Despite his success in French local elections, it is too early to talk about a Nicolas Sarkozy candidacy for the 2017 presidential election, say experts.
The opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) has declared victory for its candidate, Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria's bitterly contested presidential election
The Dutch meteorological office issued a code red warning for the low-lying country's northern and coastal provinces, as gusts of up to 120 kilometres (75 miles) an hour battered the Netherlands.
With the court swamped with investigations in Africa and prosecutors already struggling to secure convictions, legal experts say they need to be absolutely certain before proceeding with a highly politicised case againstIsrael.
A source from Mostafa's office told AA that the deputy PM, who also serves as economy minister, presented his resignation during a Palestinian cabinet meeting in Ramallah on Tuesday
The official asserted that Abbas had not intended to call for Arab military intervention in the Gaza Strip, which since 2007 has been governed by resistance movement Hamas
Iraqi forces have retaken the Salaheddin provincial government headquarters in Tikrit from the ISIL , a significant advance in the battle to recapture the city, officials said Tuesday.
France’s National Front party has won a sizeable number of council seats in Sunday’s second round of local elections. Though the party didn’t do as well as was predicted in polls, its leader Marine Le Pen calls the results a "magnificent success."
Yehia Hawrani, a senior Hamas leader was killed in Syria's Yarmouk refugee camp