VATICAN CITY, JULY 11, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address given by Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, during a press conference to present the Consolidated Financial Statement of the Holy See for the 2004 fiscal year.
* * *
As usual, I have the honor of presenting the Consolidated Financial Statement of the Holy See for the fiscal year 2004 with my staff. As a consolidated financial statement, it contains the income and the expenses of the various pontifical administrations that are within the area of consolidation. Particularly, it includes the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA) that provides for all operations of the Offices and the Entities of the Roman Curia — the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Apostolic Camera, Vatican Radio, the Vatican Television Center, the Vatican Printing Press — L’Osservatore Romano and the Vatican Publishing House.
The good news for the current operating statement is that, after three years of negative results, the year 2004 closed in the black! Actually, it shows a profit of 3,081,820 euros, with an increase of roughly 12.7 million euros, compared with the previous fiscal year.
I turn now to the analysis of the principal entries of the operating statement, which as usual are expressed in the following four categories:
1) Institutional activity. This sector encompasses all the dicasteries of the Roman Curia: the Secretariat of State, the pontifical representations, the Roman congregations, pontifical councils, the Synod of Bishops and the various offices. As these assist the Holy Father more closely in his mission as Universal Pastor at the service of the local Churches and also for the benefit of humanity as promoter of peace in today’s world, they do not produce income.
This is the significance of the Canon 1271 C.J.C. prescriptions, which invite the bishops to come freely to the aid of the necessities of the Holy See by supporting its activity, in the same way that Canon 1263 C.J.C. prescribes that the parishes support the activity of the diocesan curiae.
In 2004 the volume of donations that came from episcopal conferences, dioceses, religious institutes, faithful and various entities, in addition to other slight revenues, decreased from 73.4 million euros in 2003 to 73.3 million in 2004. Therefore, it remains substantially unchanged even if, in practice, the increased value of the euro in relation to the U.S. dollar reduced the value of contributions.
As for costs of the entire sector, we can [note] a rise: from 99.4 million in 2003 to 101.6 million. This increase is due above all to the cost of personnel that, as [of] 1 January 2004, have reached a 9% rise in wage and salary payments. However, it is offset by lower costs for pontifical representations. Globally, this important sector closed with a deficit equal to 23.2 million euros, which is an increase compared with the institutional deficit of 2003, which stood at roughly 19.7 million euros.
2) Financial Activity. In this sector are included the financial activities of the consolidated administrations, especially those of APSA Extraordinary Section (Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See). In 2004 this sector closed with a profit of 6.1 million euros, with an improvement of roughly 17.7 million euros, unlike the previous financial year, which recorded a negative result of 11.6 million euros.
This can be attributed to the improvement of the situation of the financial markets which occurred in the course of 2004. Within this sector, the loss relative to fluctuations in the rates of exchange, which amounted to roughly 35.8 million euros in 2003, was reduced to 15 million in 2004 whereas the revenues from negotiation of securities fell from a positive result of 5.8 million euros to 1.8 million from one year to another.
3) The real estate sector closed with a net gain of 24.9 million euros, higher than that of 2003 which stood at roughly 22.4 million. This positive result can be attributed mostly to the appreciated value of some real estate. In the financial year under examination total costs amounted to about 28.3 million euros, whereas revenues reached 53 million euros.
4) The activity of the media institutions connected with the Holy See. As you know, in this sector are gathered the activities of Vatican Radio, the Vatican Printing Press — L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican Television Center and the Vatican Publishing House. This sector closed with a deficit of 4.3 million euros (higher by roughly 3 million euros compared with that of the previous fiscal year). Actually, the total expenses reached 45.2 million euros while they stood at 41.9 million in 2003. The total income maintained substantially the sum of 40 million euros. As it is known, in these revenues is included the contributions designated for Vatican Radio by an entity external to the consolidation.
The last entry of the operating statement pertains to Other Income and Expense. This presents a negative result of 546,000 euros and reflects unexpected income and expenses that occurred during the year.
The financial statement was submitted to the examination of the Council of International Auditors and then to the Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See. On 2 July 2005, I had the privilege of presenting it to the Holy Father. It will now be translated into various languages and sent to the bishops and the superiors general of religious institutes of men and women.
We are now at your disposal to reply to your questions.
[Translation of Italian original published by the Holy See; adapted slightly here]