Vatican finances must be like a house of glass

The economy of the Holy See should be transparent like a house of glass, says Vatican Secretariat for the Economy prefect Fr. Juan A. Guerrero SJ.

He made the comment when the Secretariat released the 2019 balance sheet for the Roman Curia last Thursday.

“We want the budget to explain how the Holy See uses its resources to carry out its mission,” he added.

The balance sheet provides the Vatican’s most detailed-ever financial figures.

His comments were made a week after the resignation of Cardinal Angelo Becciu from the Roman Curia, after over a year of new reports of various financial scandals involving Becciu and the Holy See’s Secretariat of State.

Guerrero says he “reads the newspapers” and that “it is possible that, in some cases, the Holy See was not only badly advised but also cheated.

“I believe we are learning from past mistakes or recklessness,” he said.

The Vatican may have been swindled before by unscrupulous dealings, but being like a house of glass would provide some assurance to the faithful that the Holy See’s finances were being well-managed.

The balance sheet’s publication coincides with an onsite financial inspection by Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering watchdog.

It is expected that the evaluation will look at the role of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA).

APSA is the Holy See treasury and sovereign wealth manager. It also administers payroll and operating expenses for Vatican City.

In 2018, Pope Francis asked for Vatican investments to be centralized under APSAs management.

Guerrero says work to centralise the investments in APSA is advancing “little by little.”

He says in April he asked all dicasteries transfer their liquid assets to APSA, in anticipation of revenue loss due to Italy’s coronavirus lockdown.

The following month, Guerrero said the Vatican forecast a reduction in income of between 30 percent and 80 percent for the next fiscal year as a result of the pandemic.

The Vatican’s financial report for 2019, which was released on 1 October, shows the expenditure of 60 curial offices for 2019 was 318 million euros and its income was 307 million euros.

The report says the 11 million-euro deficit is smaller than the 2018 deficit because of 68 million euros in investment returns. The increase was “mostly attributable to the effect of the recovery of share prices in 2019,” the report explains.

Financial statements for other Vatican entities which collaborate with the Holy See are not included in the report.

These entities include the governorate of Vatican City State and Peter’s Pence, the pope’s charitable fund which comes from an annual Church-wide collection.

These institutions and others present their results and report to the corresponding authorities.

The balance sheet shows overall income and expenditure figures for 2019 and a breakdown of how much went to each curial department.

Expense categories are listed as apostolic mission, assets management, and services and administration.


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