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The official name of the Vatican bank is the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (I.O.R.), or the Institute for Religious Works. It has been called one of the most secretive financial institutions in the world. The bank is known to manage contributions such as the annual worldwide Peter's Pence collection, used for religious, humanitarian, and social development work, and to support activities of the Holy See, the central administration governing the Roman Catholic Church. The bank also manages funds entrusted to it by religious orders and individuals associated with the Vatican. The nature and extent of its holdings and specific transactions, however, are not disclosed.

In contrast to this lack of official information, the bank often found itself the subject of unflattering publicity under its ...

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