Vatican runs out of reserves to cover deficit, looking for donations
ROME (AP) – The Vatican on Friday warned that it had nearly exhausted its financial reserves thanks to past donations to cover budget deficits in recent years, as it urged to continue donating worshipers to keep the Holy Seat afloat and ministry of Pope Francis.
The Vatican has released its 2021 budget as part of its latest push for greater financial transparency amid a projected budget deficit of € 50 million this year. The aim is to reassure donors that their money is well spent, after years of mismanagement which is currently the subject of a corruption investigation at the Vatican.
Francis’ Economy Minister Reverend Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves said the coronavirus pandemic, which has reduced donations as well as revenues from closed Vatican Museums, will contribute to an expected 30% reduction in revenues to 213 million euros in 2021, compared to 307. million euros in 2019, the latest year available.
He noted that the Vatican achieved significant cost reductions during last year’s lockdown, with drastic cuts in travel, consultation fees, conference and assembly costs, and postponing repairs and unnecessary home maintenance. In an interview with Vatican Media, Guerrero said he expected to cut spending further by 8% in 2021, without resorting to layoffs, which Francis is opposed to.
But even then, the deficit of 50 million euros expected for 2021 will again require drawing on the reserves of past donations to cover expenses. Guerrero has confirmed that in 2019 the Vatican used € 27.2 million in Peter’s Pence reserves to cover its operating costs, in addition to the € 53.8 million in income from the Peter’s Pence fund this that year.
In 2020, he estimated that the Vatican had taken 40 million euros from Peter’s Pence reserves and that a similar amount was expected in 2021.
Peter’s Pence funds, usually offered as an annual mass fundraiser, are touted as a tangible way to help the Pope with his ministry and charitable works, but are also used to manage the bureaucracy of the Holy See.
“This reliance on Peter’s Pence reserves in recent years means that the fund’s liquidity is running out and with the current crisis it is very likely that in 2022 we will have to rely to some extent on APSA assets,” said he declared. referring to the Vatican central bank, which manages the real estate and other financial investments of the Holy See.
The Peter’s Pence funds have come under scrutiny in an investigation by Vatican prosecutors into the Secretary of State’s € 350 million investment in a London real estate company, part of which was apparently funded by the Peter’s Pence.
Several Italian brokers and dealers, as well as some Vatican officials, are under investigation because they suspect they have stolen millions of dollars in fees from the Holy See.