10/01/2020, 17.05
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The Holy See’s deficit drops to 11 million euros, down from 78 million

This figure refers to the budget of the Holy See, i.e. the 60 entities that serve the Pope in his mission guiding the Church. It does not include the Vatican City nor the Vatican Bank (IOR). For the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, “It is possible that, in some cases, the Holy See has been not only badly advised but also cheated.”

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy (SPE), gave an interview to Vatican News to present the Holy See’s budget. 

In 2019 the Holy See had a deficit of 11 million euros (US$ 13 million), with net income of 307 million (US$ 360 million) against net expenses of 318 million (US$ 373 million). This is lower than in 2018, when the deficit was 75 million (US$ 88 million). In addition, the Holy See’s net equity is estimated at 1.4 billion euros (US$ 1.6 billion).

The numbers refer to the budget of the Holy See in the strictest sense, namely the 60 entities that serve Pope in his mission at the helm of the Church, in his service of unity in charity, namely evangelisation, communication, promotion of integral human development, education, aid to Churches in need, clergy training, etc.

The numbers are not the budget of the Vatican as a whole, which also include, for example, the budget of the Vatican City, that is the Governorate; the Vatican Bank (IOR); St Peter’s Pence; and a good number of foundations that work with Vatican dicasteries.

“In 2019, 54%, or 164 million euros (US$ 193 million), were generated from the same assets. Commercial activity (visits to the catacombs, which unlike museums are part of the Holy See, productions sold by the Dicastery of Communication, the Vatican Publishing House, etc.) and services (fees for some certificates, academic fees of university institutions, etc.) brought in 14%, or 44 million euros (US$ 52 million).  The Vatican entities that are not consolidated in this budget (IOR, Governorate, St. Peter's Basilica) contributed 14% of revenue, 43 million (US$ 50 million). And the donations of the dioceses and the faithful amounted to 56 million euros (US$ 66 million), 18%.”

“The donations of the faithful to Peter’s Pence add up as well, and contribute 35% to expenses. The faithful want to contribute to the mission of the Church, but it is essential to have a policy of external transparency and communication capable of transmitting precisely how we use the money we receive and administer. This is the goal we want to achieve; this is the path on which the Holy Father has directed us.”

“We could divide the costs into three blocks: what we have called asset management is 67 million euros (US$ 79 million), 21% of the costs, and includes 18 million euros (US$ 21 million) in taxes and 25 million euros (US$ 50 million) spent on building maintenance. We could say that these 67 million euros are how much it costs us to generate the 164 million euros of revenue that I mentioned before and that are derived from ownership. Services and administration absorb 14% of expenses. And mission expenses absorb 65% of expenses.”

The costs include “maintaining 125 nunciatures and permanent missions in the world with 43 million euros” (US$ 50 million) as well as “L'Osservatore Romano, broadcasting more than 24 hours a day in 40 languages, as Vatican Radio and Vatican Media”.

“Again, if we look at the Library, or the archives or Christian archaeology, which deal with a heritage not only of the Church, but of humanity, and compare it with similar institutions: we can say that they do so with dignity and, relatively speaking, with little. The same can be said of university institutions, etc. Whenever I find a term of comparison with other similar or comparable institutions, it seems to me that the Holy See does much with little, thanks to many people who work with enormous generosity. I do not want to say that we should not improve in many things. But it must also be stressed that there is much that is done well.”

The Holy See’s budget is dedicated to the mission, explains the prefect. “[W]e want the budget to explain how the Holy See uses its resources to fulfil its mission, its service to the mission of the Holy Father. Then there is another aspect.  The Holy See does not function as a company or a state, it does not seek profits or surpluses. It is therefore normal that it is in deficit. Almost all the departments are in fact "cost centers": they perform a service that is neither sold nor sponsored.  Avoiding deficit is not the objective of the Holy See. Its spirit is different. 

“We believe that the aim is for the costs to correspond to what is necessary for the service of the mission entrusted to us. In this sense it is desirable that we can have a great deal if that is what helps for the service that we must provide. In other words, we cannot ignore the just need for resources and the resources that are available: we must have economic prudence. But neither can we think and act on them alone, sometimes we must give more than we have in order to fulfil our mission: we must have the boldness of mission. What we must take care of is whether the deficit is sustainable or adequately financed in the long term. There are so many needs in the world. We must trust in Providence, which acts through the generosity of the faithful.”

In response to a question about recent press coverage, a clear reference to the affair involving Card Giovanni Becciu, Fr Guerrero Alves said: “It is possible that, in some cases, the Holy See has been not only badly advised but also cheated. I believe that we are learning from past mistakes or imprudence. Now it is a matter of accelerating, at the decisive and insistent impulse of the Pope, the process of knowledge, internal and external transparency, control, and collaboration between the different departments. We have included in our teams professionals of the highest level. Today there is communication and collaboration between departments of economic content to address these issues. Collaboration is a great step forward. The Secretariat of State, APSA and SPE work together well. We can certainly make mistakes, we can make mistakes or be cheated, but it seems more difficult for this to happen when we cooperate and act with competence, transparency and trust between us.” (FP)

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