POPE Francis has taken his first major step in reforming the troubled Vatican bank by tapping a trusted prelate to oversee its management.

F131341994-19a5f2a2-ad17-42a8-a979-41cae906de1crancis signed off on naming Monsignor Battista Ricca as interim prelate of the Institute for Religious Works.

It’s a key job that has been left vacant since 2011: The prelate oversees the bank’s activities, attends its board meetings and, critically, has access to all its documentation. The prelate reports to the commission of cardinals who run the bank and is currently headed by the Vatican No. 2. That gives Ricca a near-direct line to the pope, serving as a bridge between the bank’s lay managers and board members and its cardinal leadership.

Ricca is currently director of the Vatican hotel where Francis lives and other Vatican-owned residential institutes for clergy.