Steadier Dollar Helps Holy See's Accounts

Cardinal Sebastiani Presents the Balance Sheet

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 11, 2005 ( The stabilization of the dollar helped the Holy See’s accounts in fiscal year 2004, allowing it to post a surplus of 3 million euros ($3.67 million).

The Holy See’s financial statement for 2004 was presented to the press today by Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See. The Holy See finished the fiscal year in the black for the first time in four years.

In 2003, the dollar fell by 20%, while over the past year its fall narrowed to 6.6%, noted Paolo Trombetta, the prefecture’s general accountant.

The Holy See has the greater part of its expenses in euros, though its dollar revenues are important.

Because of the euro-dollar exchange rate, the Holy See benefited by about 17.7 million euros, or $21 million, is its investment sector, revealed Trombetta.

In regard to the Holy See’s institutional activities, Cardinal Sebastiani explained that the section closed with a deficit of about $28 million, greater than in 2003, when it was around $23.7 million at today’s exchange rate.

The losses are due, among other reasons, to the allocation of more money to the staff. Salaries of the Holy See’s employees have been increased by 9%. But the expenses of pontifical representations, such as apostolic nunciatures, have been reduced.

Real estate

In addition to the Roman Curia’s institutional expenses, the financial statement touches on other sections, such as management of the Holy See’s patrimony. In this section, the positive result was $7.3 million.

The Holy See invests 80% of the patrimony in government obligations — “safer and less risky,” according to Cardinal Sebastiani — and 20% in stocks. “Always with the guarantee that they are 100% ethical investments,” he added.

Another section is the Holy See’s real estate sector. In the past fiscal year these assets appreciated by 24.9 million euros ($29.6 million), more than the 22.4 million euros a year earlier.

“This positive result can be attributed mostly to the appreciated value of some real estate,” said Cardinal Sebastiani.

The activity of the media institutions — Vatican Radio, Vatican Press/L’Osservatore Romano, Vatican Publishing House and Vatican Television Center — has resulted in a deficit of 4.3 million euros ($5.1 million), 3 million euros more than in 2003.

To compensate the loss, resources have been used from the Governorate of Vatican City, in keeping with an instruction from Pope John Paul II.

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