Valentina di Giorgio
(ZENIT News / Roma, 08.14.2023).- The Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) contributed a sum of €32.27 million to meet the financial requirements of the Roman Curia in the year 2022. This pivotal figure has emerged from the publication of APSA’s financial report on Thursday, August 10th, for the fiscal year 2022. Notably, APSA’s financial outcome for the year was balanced, as the contribution extended to the Roman Curia, in accordance with arrangements shared with the Secretariat for the Economy, equaled the realized profit.
In his accompanying letter to the financial report, Archbishop Nunzio Galantino, President of APSA, underscores the presented pages and the numbers within, recounting “an administration that, like all others, has had to grapple with the effects of the pandemic crisis and the uncertainty stemming from ongoing conflicts.” Nevertheless, these pages embody an ambition: “to bring clarity to the realm of administration and management, which thrives on competencies, loyalty, and transparency, but also trust, as the eminent economist Antonio Genovesi emphasized in the eighteenth century.”
Another striking facet of the financial report is the sum directly and indirectly contributed by APSA as property-related taxes on Italian territory. For the tax year 2022, APSA remitted €6.05 million for IMU (property tax) and €2.91 million for IRES (corporate income tax). Of these, for APSA alone, €4.65 million accounted for IMU and €2.01 million for IRES.
Archbishop Galantino elaborates on this point, stating that “transparency in numbers, achieved results, and defined procedures is one of the tools we possess to dispel, at least among those free from preconceptions, unfounded suspicions regarding the extent of the Church’s wealth, its administration, or compliance with duties of justice, such as the payment of due taxes and other levies.”
On the other hand, Archbishop Galantino observes that “a little over a year after the publication of the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium, the nature and tasks assigned by Pope Francis to APSA are becoming clearer.” However, “the responsibility vested in it is also evident.” Through “comprehensible, effective, and transparent procedures, APSA is called upon to contribute to the Church’s evangelizing mission.” In this regard, the President highlights that “we are all now convinced that the reputation of the Church in managing what is entrusted to it by the faithful’s generosity is a prerequisite for the credibility of its proclamation.” Hence, “one of the reasons justifying the publication of the budget for the third consecutive year.”
“With the collaboration and professionalism of the entire APSA community,” Archbishop Galantino notes, “the journey continues towards achieving the objectives set within the three-year development plan, which is continually updated and submitted to the oversight bodies of the Holy See. The goal is to provide economic support for the mission of the Pope and the structures that share the task of evangelization with him.”
Within this framework of transparency, the budget provides an overview of the achievements and economic challenges faced. Notably, the economic performance of 2022, following the Covid-19 pandemic period, was marked by “negative financial and economic consequences” stemming from the conflict in Ukraine. Additionally, as “was evident from the first months, there were inflationary pressures and significant increases in energy costs that had adverse repercussions on the operational results of APSA’s various areas of activity.”
In terms of brighter aspects, the figures concerning the management of real estate assets indicate an increase of €32 million compared to 2021.
It should be recalled that APSA is tasked with administering movable and immovable properties of the Holy See, guided by certain purposes. Primarily, the objective is not profit but rather the preservation and consolidation of inherited assets through what Pope Francis has termed “widow’s investments.” This popular expression underscores the criteria by which the APSA Investment Office still operates today, not pursuing speculative aims but rather focusing on investments of “controlled yield and proven social impact.” In this particular period, with signs of normal activities resuming, APSA is charged with conducting credible and reliable administration, based on processes of rationalization, transparency, and professionalism as stipulated by the Pope.
Regarding the management of movable assets, APSA’s investment policy, characterized by prudence and non-speculation, continued to prioritize a “proper balance between risk and medium-to-long-term profitability, favoring prudent asset allocation.” In 2022, despite an uncertain economic climate, a “more congruous conservative strategic portfolio allocation was deemed appropriate, characterized by a moderate equity exposure (around 25%, including the alternative assets component).” There was also a “reduced average maturity of the bond portfolio of about 4/5 years and a high level of precautionary liquidity,” both to address the Holy See’s future uncertain financial commitments and “changes in governance, also related to the new Apostolic Constitution.”
In particular, the result of movable asset management was -€6.7 million, compared to the positive outcome of €19.85 million achieved in 2021, resulting in a difference of -€26.55 million from 2021. Similarly, management costs increased from €10 to €13 million. Given elevated market valuations, fragile economic growth, a significant decline in corporate profits, and an inflationary spiral, APSA opted to “maintain a substantially unchanged portfolio positioning compared to 2021, while consistently adopting a policy of risk control.” Investments in alternative assets were maintained on standby, to the extent that they could impact liquidity management.
Financial investments managed by APSA amounted to approximately €1.777 million as of December 31, 2022, encompassing both property management and third-party management (institutes of the Holy See or affiliated entities). APSA also oversees other activities, including the costs related to the operation of the entire structure, such as the Peregrinatio ad Petri Sedem. The attached report to the budget references the three-year plan launched to optimize results and enhance working methods. Notably, once the objectives are achieved, an estimated benefit of €55.4 million is projected. This is also achieved by implementing the “Rental Income” program to achieve a gradual reduction of vacant properties. Within the two main parts of the project, 79 properties have already been renovated and are undergoing commercialization. For the second part, consisting of 61 units, the renovation phase has already commenced.