What is the Istituto per le Opere di Religione



The Istituto per le Opere di Religione (henceforth, the Institute or IOR) is an institution of the Holy See, founded by Chirograph of His Holiness Pius XII on 27 June 1942. Its origins date back to the “Commissione ad pias causas ” established by the Supreme Pontiff Leo XIII in 1887.


With the new Statutes attached to the Chirograph of His Holiness Francis dated 8 August 2019, the mission of the Institute has been reiterated and involves “providing for the custody and administration of goods transferred or entrusted to the Institute by physical or juridical persons, and intended for works of religion or charity”.






Key milestones in the IOR's history:

11 February 1887

Pope Leo XIII constitutes the “Commission of Cardinals for Charitable Causes“ (“Commissione Cardinaliza ad pias causas”) with an own regulation

24 November 1904

Pope Pio X changes the Commission’s name to “Commission of Cardinals for the Works of Religion” (“Commissione Cardinalizia per le Opere di Religione”)

10 February 1934

The Comission is turned into the “Administrative Prelate Commission of the Works of Religion” (“Commissione Prelatizia Amministratrice delle Opere di Religione”) and Pope Pio XI approves its statute




The IOR Statute can be viewed in the link below (Statute).



Key Figures

These are the key figures for the IOR at a glance:

2019 tab eng




Regulatory framework

The Institute is subject to the laws and regulations of the Holy See and Vatican City State.

The Vatican legal framework recognizes Canon Law as the primary source of legislation and the primary criterion for its interpretation. Furthermore, there are six organic laws and other ordinary laws specific to the Vatican City State. For matters not covered by Vatican laws, the laws and other regulations issued by the Italian Republic are observed as supplementary, subject to prior approval by the competent Vatican authority. They are adopted on the condition that they do not conflict with the doctrine of divine law, the general principles of Canon Law or the provisions of the Lateran Pact and subsequent Agreements, and provided that they are applicable to the state of affairs existing in Vatican City State (See Law no. LXXI on the source of law, promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI on 1 October 2008).

According to article 1.4 of Law no. LXXI on the sources of law, the legal framework must also conform to the general norms of international law, and to those arising from treaties and other agreements to which the Holy See is party.

The Institute is subject to Law no. XVIII of 8 October 2013 that covers norms of transparency, supervision, and financial intelligence as amended by Law no. CCXLVII of June 19th 2018.

According to the Law no. XVIII, the Financial Information Authority (AIF) has the regulatory responsibility of specifying and providing further implementation respectively on Prudential Supervision and AML.

To this extent, the AIF has issued the following Regulation:

  • Regulation no. 1 on Prudential Supervision of the Entities Carrying Out Financial Activities on a Professional Basis (entered into force on 13 January 2015 and successively emended by the Board of Directors by the decision of 19 September 2018);

  • Regulation no. 2, establishing the data and information accompanying transfers of funds and the technical requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in Euro (12 December 2017);

  • Regulation no. 3 on payment services provided by entities carrying out financial activities on a professional basis (5 April 2018);

  • Regulation no. 4 on due diligence of the Customers of the Entities Carrying Out Financial Activities on a Professional Basis (19 September 2018);

  • Regulation no. 5 on Suspicious Activity Reports (19 September 2018);

  • Instruction No. 1 which published the list of high-risk States, with strategic deficiencies in their systems for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism (23 October 2017 and subsequent updates of the list);

  • Circular on annual accounts and consolidated accounts of entities carrying out financial activities on a professional basis (15 December 2016 as amended on 31 October 2017);

  • Circular on monetary and financial statistics of entities carrying out financial activities on a professional basis (29 December 2016);

  • Circular on interest rates applied by entities carrying out financial activities on a professional basis (29 December 2016).


During 2018, the Law no. CCLVII also came into force, establishing rules on market abuse which clarifies and completes the reference framework relating to the abuse of privileged information and market manipulation, and which applies both to operations on own account and on behalf of clients.

On 31 October 2017, the AIF amended the "Circular relating to the preparation of the annual financial statements and the consolidated financial statements of entities carrying out financial activities on a professional basis” dated 15 December 2016, mainly to provide for the adoption of the standard IFRS 9 into the Vatican legal framework.