With controversy already surrounding Pope Benedict XVI's surprise retirement announcement from earlier this week, another scandal is brewing in Vatican City. Vatican officials have long maintained that no church money goes to funding war, but today they scrambled to address concerns over their newly appointed bank president, who has business ties to a warship builder.
The pope approved German lawyer Ernst von Freyberg to head the Vatican bank (officially known as the Institute for the Works of Religion) today, according to a Reuters report. The appointment could be Benedict's last major decision before he retires at the end of the month, and Catholics are counting on von Freyberg to rehabilitate the tarnished image of a bank beset by last year's money laundering scandals. The bank has been without a president since Ettore Gotti Tedeschi's ouster in May 2012.
Freyberg's appointment appeared to running smoothly, with Vatican spokesperson Rev. Federico Lombardi playing up his aristocratic connections with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, an ancient European chivalric organization. But Rev. Lombardi appeared taken aback by a journalist's question about von Freyberg's position as a chairman with Blohm + Voss, a company involved in military ship construction. AP's Nicole Winfield summarizes his response: