Holy See Budget back in black

The Holy See has revealed that it had a budget surplus of almost $A4.89 million in 2004 after running a deficit three years in a row.

Catholic News Service reports that higher investment income and the sale of some property, mainly individual apartments in buildings outside Rome, offset increased personnel costs and a continued drop in the value of the US dollar against the euro.

Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, president of the Prefecture of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, presented the Vatican's 2004 final budget figures during a press conference on Monday.

The figures had been reviewed last week during a meeting of the council of cardinals for the study of the organisational and economic problems of the Holy See.

Cardinal Sebastiani also said the cardinals were told that the 2005 forecast was for a balanced budget; extraordinary costs connected with the death and funeral of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI will be accounted for separately, he said.

A weekend statement about the cardinals' meeting also reported a 7.4% decrease in worldwide contributions to Peter's Pence, a collection used by the pope for charitable activities.

The statement said the 2004 donations added up to just over $A68.2 million.

In the past, Cardinal Sebastiani had said Catholics in the United States and Germany were the top contributors to Peter's Pence. But at the Monday's press conference, he refused to answer questions about the drop in donations, saying that because Peter's Pence is not part of the Vatican budget it was not his place to discuss it.

Cardinal Sebastiani is responsible for overseeing two separate budget reports: the Holy See, which includes the Roman Curia, Vatican diplomatic missions around the world, Vatican Radio and Vatican investments; and Vatican City State, which includes the Vatican post office and Vatican Museums.

The income reported by the Holy See in 2004 was about $A325 million -- at 11 July 2005, exchange rates -- while expenses were about $A320 million.

While salaries for the Holy See's 2663 employees rose by 9% in 2004, the amount of money spent by 127 Vatican diplomatic missions was lower than in 2003, mainly because fewer new offices were opened, the cardinal said.

The National Catholic Reporter's John L Allen says that despite the positive balance for 2004, cardinals are worried about Vatican Radio, generally the most serious drain on the Vatican budget each year. Since the radio service does not take advertising or corporate sponsorship, its annual budget of $A39.6 million for staff and equipment must be sustained almost entirely by the Holy See. (Vatican Radio has more than 400 staff and broadcasts in 47 languages). Some cardinals feel that alternative funding models for Vatican Radio must eventually be found.

Vatican budget back in black despite weak dollar, drop in donations (Catholic News Service 12/7/05)
John L Allen: Holy See finances in the black (National Catholic Reporter 8/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Peter's Pence

Vatican budget in red, but church offerings up (CathNews 8/7/04)
Vatican in red two years running (CathNews 10/7/03)

Holy See financial statements for 2004 (Vatican Information Service/Independent Catholic News 12/7/05)
Steadier Dollar Helps Holy See's Accounts (Zenit 11/7/05)
Peter's Pence Is Not Part of Holy See's Budget (Zenit 11/7/05)
Financial Statement of the Holy See for Fiscal '04 (Zenit 11/7/05)
Peter's Pence Collects $51.7 Million (Zenit 10/7/05)
Vatican Ends Fiscal '04 in the Black (Zenit 10/7/05)
Vatican budget figures show $3.7-million surplus (Catholic World News 11/7/05)
Vatican's 2004 financial record shows increased charity to poor, help toward individual churches (Catholic News Agency 11/7/05)
Presentation of Holy See financial statements for 2004 (Vatican Information Service 11/7/05)
Holy See financial statements for 2004 (Vatican Information Service 11/7/05)
Vatican to present consolidated budget for 2004 (Catholic News Agency 8/7/05)

13 Jul 2005