VATICAN CITY, JULY 6, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See ended fiscal year 2000 with a surplus, due primarily to favorable foreign exchange rates.
The $8.5 million surplus came despite a $26 million rise in expenditures during the Jubilee.
Overall, receipts totaled $202.9 million and expenditures reached $194.3 million. The figures are lower than those of many U.S. or European dioceses.
It marked the eighth consecutive year of a surplus, following 23 years of deficits.
Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, president of the Vatican Prefecture for Economic Affairs, explained at a news conference today that the weak euro helped produce the surplus.
A substantial part of the Vatican´s receipts from sources such as episcopal conferences, religious congregations, Catholic organizations and the faithful, were denominated in U.S. dollars. The low value of the euro, the currency used by the Vatican, has increased the value of these receipts.
The increased expenditures during the Jubilee included media expenses (Vatican Radio, Vatican Television Center, L´Osservatore Romano), and compensation for 70 people contracted to work in the Curia during the Holy Year, when 23 million pilgrims came to Rome.
In addition to “the major expenses both at the general as well as administrative level,” Cardinal Sebastiani said, it was also necessary to carry out “works of restoration and maintenance in the nunciatures of our papal representatives.”
The faithful´s contributions to the Holy See, and the favorable dollar exchange, increased receipts by about $30 million. In 1991 a $86 million deficit was posted.
During today´s press conference, bishops were reminded of Canon 1271 of Church law: “Bishops are to join together to produce those mean which the Apostolic See may from time to time need to exercise properly its service of the universal Church.”
Cardinal Sebastiani concluded: “Economic autonomy for the Church is the best guarantee of freedom in its mission of evangelization, without depending on the powerful of this world.”
The Holy See´s financial statements, which include the organizations that help the Pope in the governance of the Church, are separate from those of Vatican City. The latter includes the activities proper to the life of the world´s smallest state, including museums, a pharmacy, a supermarket and police.
A press statement published today by the Council of Cardinals that is responsible for controlling the accounts of Vatican City revealed a surplus of $22.4 million.
This money will be used for structural reform works, as well as for social security for Vatican employees.
Peter´s Pence, the contributions to papal charity works and churches in need, reached $63.6 million last year, $8.3 million more than the previous year. The Holy Father has allocated this amount to Third World churches and poor people affected by natural catastrophes.