On Friday, however, the bank finally caught a break.
There was yet another gossipy piece in an Italian newsmagazine, in this case l'Espresso, featuring ominous storm cloud art, which was full of unnamed sources describing an "earthquake" related to the bank. (The place is technically the "Institute for the Works of Religion," often referred to by the Italian acronym IOR.)
Immediately after it appeared, the piece had phone lines buzzing inside the Vatican, in part because after last summer's leaks scandal, the perception that insiders are spilling the beans to reporters usually means going to Defcon 1.
Yet despite the melodramatic flourishes in the piece, its overall effect is probably to burnish, rather than erode, the bank's new image.
"In the Vatican, the unthinkable is happening," the article reports. "A deadly tightening up has been imposed … in the name of legality and absolute transparency."
For most outsiders, the application of tighter controls probably seems less unthinkable than long overdue. Aside from its checkered historical past, such as the celebrated scandals involving Roberto Calvi and the Banco Ambrosiano in the 1980s, the IOR has recently stumbled through a series of embarrassments:
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