Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing after an audience with the Roman clergy in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Thursday Feb. 14, 2013. Benedict XVI is continuing his farewell tour with an off-the-cuff meeting with Roman priests, an annual encounter that has taken on poignant new meaning with his impending resignation.The Vatican has said Benedict would reflect Thursday on his personal experiences as a young theological expert attending the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that brought the Catholic Church into the modern world. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)The Associated Press
VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI has signed off on one of the last major appointments of his papacy, approving a German lawyer to head the Vatican's embattled bank.
Ernst Von Freyberg has solid financial and Catholic credentials as a member of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, an ancient chivalrous order drawn from European nobility.
The appointment ends a nine-month search after the Institute of Religious Works ousted its previous president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, for incompetence. The ouster came just as the Vatican was submitting its finances to a review by a Council of Europe committee in a bid to join the list of financially transparent countries.
The Vatican said Von Freyberg had been appointed by the bank's commission of cardinals and that the pope had "expressed his full consent."