Vatican reveals uses of pope fund, hoping to boost trust
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican, in an apparent attempt to bolster faith among the faithful in how their charitable contributions to the pope are used, released the first detailed disclosure of its main fund on Thursday.
The Peter’s Pence Fund, whose purpose is to help the Pope lead the Church, is made up of income from a collection collected from Roman Catholic dioceses around the world once a year, individual contributions, and inheritances and legacies .
According to the “Annual Disclosure” for 2021, the contributions amount to 46.9 million euros. Compared to previously published figures, this was up slightly by around €2.8 million compared to 2020. But 2020 saw a decrease of 18% compared to 2019. This follows a reduction of 23% between 2015 and 2019.
Vatican Economy Minister Father Antonio Guerrero said the 2020-2021 crisis was due at least in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, when many churches were closed.
Many Catholics, however, say they have stopped contributing because of Vatican financial scandals, such as the one surrounding the purchase of a building in London. This investment is at the center of an ongoing corruption trial.
When the Vatican released some of its most detailed global figures ever in 2020, Guerrero said Vatican finances must be a “house of glass”, adding that the faithful have “the right to know how we use resources. “.
Disbursements from the fund amounted to 65.3 million euros, leaving a deficit of 18.4 million euros which was covered by other Vatican income.
Significantly, the disclosure for the first time detailed how the money was spent. Around 55.5 million euros were used to help cover the running costs of Vatican departments, its embassies around the world, its communication structure and to help local churches.
Around 10 million euros from Peter’s Pence went to 157 direct assistance projects, including those to help the poor, children, the elderly and victims of natural disasters and war.
Most of the projects were in Africa and Asia. The disclosure gave details of some of the direct assistance projects, such as the construction of a youth building in Haiti and another to end online child sexual exploitation and trafficking in the Philippines.
The transparency changes regarding Peter’s Pence stem from a decree by Pope Francis in December 2020.
(Corrects paragraph 3 to show contributions increased in 2021 compared to 2020, not down 15%; repeats for wider distribution, no text change)
Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Alison Williams