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Vatican budget in red, but church offerings up

The Holy See reported on Wednesday its third budget deficit in as many years with restoration works at the Vatican taking their toll on 2003 accounts despite a small increase in global church offerings.

The 2003 deficit shrank to $A16.56 million from $A23.3 million the year before, the Holy See said in a statement.

The cost of maintaining the Vatican city state in the heart of Rome is one of the main factors weighing on the books as restoration works added to the general administration costs and the price of broadcasting Vatican Radio.

Church offerings were up 5.7% at $A96.2 million, but not enough to offset higher costs. Donations were mostly earmarked for the victims of conflict and natural disasters.

No regional breakdown of offerings was provided. Some church officials have feared a drop in contributions from parishioners in some countries after the clergy sex abuse scadals would affect income.

The coffers of some dioceses, particularly those in the United States, have been depleted by legal expenses for the defense of priests who have been accused of sexual abuse.

The Holy See's total income in 2003 was $A351.1 million, compared with total spending of $A367.5 million.

The shortfalls come after eight years of budget surpluses, thanks in part to the strong international financial markets.

The Holy See's budget is a fraction of that of many towns and corporations and even smaller than some individual Catholic dioceses around the world.

The Archdiocese of Portland, struggling to settle scores of sexual abuse charges dating back decades, said on Tuesday it had filed for bankruptcy in what it believed was the first such action by a US Catholic diocese.

Vatican Budget in Red, But Church Offerings Up (Reuters 7/7/04)

Vatican in red for third year, but reduces deficit (San Francisco Chronicle/Associatetd Press 7/7/04)
Vatican budget shows $11-million deficit (Catholic World News 7/7/04)
Vatican deficit linked to effects of 11 September (CathNews 8/7/02)

Cardinal hamao opens Congress on Pastoral Care of Tourism (Vatican Information Service 6/7/04)
Holy See Urges All Nations to Adopt Land-Mine Ban (Zenit 4/7/04)

8 Jul 2004