The Vatican today turned over the management of its scandal-tainted bank to financial experts not connected with the clergy, ending the 20-year presidency of American Archbishop Paul C. Marcinkus.
A U.S. businessman and bankers from Italy, Spain, Switzerland and West Germany were named to the bank's supervisory board. They will select a director and deputy director, also laymen.
"In principle, laymen should be more competent in financial affairs than clerics," said Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro.
The appointments take effect immediately, Navarro said. They were the latest step in a sweeping management reform announced in March that also established a special commission of five cardinals for the bank, which is formally called the Institute for Religious Works.
The reform abolished the post of president, which has been held since 1969 by the 67-year-old Marcinkus, a native of Cicero, Ill.
Marcinkus, long a Vatican power, retains another post, the equivalent of deputy governor of the Vatican city-state.
Warrants for the arrest of Marcinkus and two lay Vatican bank officials were issued in 1987 after Italian prosecutors charged them with being accessories to the fraudulent bankruptcy of Banco Ambrosiano, a Milan-based bank that collapsed in 1982.
But the arrests never were carried out. Italy's Constitutional Court ruled that a Vatican-Italian treaty precluded any interference by Italian authorities in the affairs of the Vatican, an independent city-state.
The Vatican denied wrongdoing in the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano but agreed in 1984 to pay $250 million to its creditors.
Named to the supervisory board were Angelo Caloia, chairman of Italy's Mediocredito Lombardo; Philippe De Weck, former chairman of Union Bank of Switzerland; Jose A. Sanchez Asiain, co-chairman of Spain's Banco Bilbao Vizcaya; Theodor E. Pietzcker, a director of West Germany's Deutsche Bank, and Thomas M. Macioce, former chairman and chief executive officer of Allied Stores Corp. in New York.