Holy See, in "Lean Years," Posts a Financial Deficit

But Donations Increased in 2002

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 10, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See’s finances finished in the red for 2002, but officials are grateful for the increased donations from the faithful.

“The economic crisis also affects the Holy See,” the president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, said during a press conference today. For the first time, the Holy See presented its financial statements in euros.

Income totaled 216,575,034 euros ($245 million), and expenses 230,081,756 euros ($260 million), creating a deficit of 13,506,722 euros ($15.3 million). Despite the deficit, members of the Prefecture of Financial Affairs were “grateful and surprised” by the faithful’s increase in donations to the Holy See.

“We are in a period of lean years,” Cardinal Sebastiani told journalists in the Vatican press office, drawing a parallel between the Holy See’s economy with the world economy.

“When things go well, we save, and when lean years arrive — as at present — we use these savings, just as donors do,” the cardinal said. Until the year 2000, there was a period of boom years or prosperity, he added.

The Holy See’s major expenses are ordinary and extraordinary administrative costs of the Roman Curia, in which 2,659 people work (744 ecclesiastics, 351 religious and 1,564 lay people).

Last year, new premises had to be constructed and acquired for papal representations, as well as a building located on Via della Conciliazione — the avenue leading to St. Peter’s Square — which will serve as offices for the Roman Curia.

Cardinal Sebastiani explained that for the first time the Holy See’s media “have shown an improvement in the final balance.” Expenses in the nunciatures fell considerably thanks to “strict control,” he said.

Referring to donations from curias, religious congregations, foundations and other entities, he said: “We did not expect that donations would be so high.” The Holy See received donations totaling 85,385,000 euros ($96 million), a higher amount than in previous years.

“It is due to greater awareness in parishes and dioceses, which realize that it is necessary to help the Holy See, as established in Canon 1271 of Canon Law, which suggests — it does not oblige — to bishops that they collaborate with the Apostolic See,” the cardinal said.

These numbers have no relation with so-called Peter’s Pence, which the Pope allocates to charity, and which this year reached $58.8 million.

The financial statements are being translated into various languages and will be given to the episcopal conferences and religious congregations. The translations will specify in detail the type of aid, the countries that contributed most, and the sources of income.

Likewise, Vatican City State (the administration of the small state with its institutions) posted a deficit of 16,048,508 euros ($18.1 million).

A factor was the city-state’s covering of half of the deficit of Vatican Radio, which administratively is under the Holy See. The city-state’s budget includes 1,511 dependents (including 1,436 lay people) and 566 retirees.

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