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Pope backs scandal-plagued Vatican Bank to operate

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis has given his backing to the Vatican Bank to keep operating as it strives to improve compliance with international best banking practices.

The bank, which has been caught up in money-laundering probes, is also known as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR).

In a statement Monday, the Vatican said “the valuable services that can be offered by the Institute assist the Holy Father in his mission as universal pastor.”

Referring to reforms sparked by the probes, the Vatican said the bank's executives and managers will finalize plans to ensure the institute can fulfill its mission “as part of the Holy See's new financial structures.”

In announcing Francis' approval for the bank's future, it stressed that the IOR must follow 2013 papal directives on “transparency, supervision and financial information.”

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