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Vatican budget shows $19 million shortfall

July 05, 2012

The Holy See ran a deficit of nearly €15 million ($18.6 million) in 2011, the largest shortfall in recent years.

After posting a surplus of €9.8 million in 2010, the Vatican budget showed the red ink that had also appeared in the three previous years, the latest figures show.

After a July 3-4 meeting of the council of cardinals who supervise Vatican financial affairs, the Holy See released budget figures for 2011, explaining that the deficit was attributable to “the negative trend of global financial markets, which made it impossible to achieve the goals laid down in the budget.” In light of worldwide financial problems, Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, remarked that the result “does not surprise anyone.” Although the Vatican’s return on investments dropped sharply in 2011, donations increased by 7.5%. Gifts to the Peter’s Pence collection, which had fallen in 2010, rebounded by $2 million, from $67.7 million to $69.7 million—although they still remained well short of the figure for 2009. Contributions from dioceses rose by $5 million to $32 million. The Holy See also received a €49 million ($60 million) gift from the Vatican bank, the Institute for Religious Works.

The expenses of the Holy See consist mainly of personnel costs, for the people working in the Roman Curia, and communications costs. The offices of the Holy See produce very little revenue, relying on donations and investment income to defray annual expenses.

The government of the Vatican city-state, which keeps a separate budget, produced a surplus of €21.8 million ($27 million) for 2011. The city-state maintains the Vatican Museums, which saw a €9 million boost in revenue as more than 5 million visitors passed through the Vatican collections in 2011.

Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, the president of the prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, presented the financil figures to the committee of cardinals. A Vatican statement released after the meeting reported that the cardinals “made clear their appreciation at the completeness and transparency of the information they had been given.” The cardinals also expressed gratitude for the generosity of faithful Catholics, “even more praiseworthy given the persistent economic crisis.”


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