Pope Francis creates new department to oversee Vatican finance

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Francis on Monday created a new finance ministry to oversee the Holy See's economic affairs in a move aimed at increasing transparency and boosting funds for the poor following a wave of scandals at the Vatican bank.

The ministry will be headed by Australian Cardinal George Pell, and will prepare an annual budget for the Vatican as well as imposing international accounting standards and reporting practices, the Vatican said.

"The Holy Father today announced a new coordination structure for economic and administrative affairs of the Holy See and the Vatican State," it said in a statement.

The Vatican said the move followed recommendations made by cardinals advising "more formal commitment" to international standards.

The changes "will ensure better use of resources, improving the support available for various programs, particularly our works with the poor," it said.

The new ministry, formally a "Secretariat for the Economy", will be governed by a 15-member council of eight clergymen from different parts of the world and seven lay international financial sector experts.