Pandemic drains Vatican funds and hits reserves
VATICAN CITY, March 12 (Reuters) – The Holy See, the central administrative body of the global Catholic Church, may have to use € 40 million in reserves for the second year in a row as the COVID-19 pandemic burns down its finances, a Vatican official said on Friday.
Father Juan Antonio Guerrero, head of the Vatican Economic Secretariat, also said a special discretionary fund to help Pope Francis run the Church and fund his charities is running dangerously low.
Guerrero spoke in an interview with the official VaticanNews website as details of the Holy See’s estimated budget for this year were released. The key figure, a deficit of around 50 million euros ($ 59.77 million), had already been released last month.
The Holy See’s budget covers the entities in Rome that oversee the government of the 1.3 billion-member world Church, its diplomatic representations and media operations.
Vatican City, including the Vatican Museums and the Vatican Bank, has a separate budget, although revenues from both are often transferred to the Holy See to help fill deficits.
St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, the latter a cash cow that received around 6 million paying visitors in 2019, have been closed or partially open for much of 2020 due to the pandemic. They were due to reopen next week but no longer do so due to another lockdown by Italy.
Guerrero said reserves declined by around 40 million euros last year and are expected to drop by the same amount this year. No total figure for existing reserves was given.
The income of the Holy See comes from donations, property management and investments. Revenue is expected to be around $ 213 million in 2021, down 30% from 2020.
About half of the Holy See’s spending is on staff, and the Pope has insisted on cutting costs without cutting jobs. ($ 1 = 0.8366 euros) (Report by Philip Pullella edited by Mark Heinrich)