The Vatican forecasts a deficit of 33 million in 2022 due to the pandemic
Correspondent in the Vatican
In recent years, the Vatican budget it was published almost in the spring, several months late. But this year, the Spanish Jesuit Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves and his right-hand man, Maximino Caballero, also from Extremadura, have pressed the accelerator of the Vatican machinery and have achieved the impossible: publish it this same month of January.
The achievement is not just an anecdote, but a good sign that the slow Vatican economic reform is beginning to take hold, the dicasteries are already obeying the rule of transmitting their accounts, and that the so-called ‘Secretariat for the Economy’ is taking control . Now all that remains is for the accounts to come out.
The bad news is that the 2022 budget of the Holy See foresees 769.6 million euros in income, and expenses of 803 million euros, that is, a deficit of 33.4 million euros.
To cover it, you will need to draw on reserves.
The key to reading the budget is to remember that the Holy See, which encompasses the activity of the Pope and the Curia in the government of the Catholic Church, It has neither taxes nor industry. For this reason, it has an item of income that is susceptible to instability.
According to the 2022 budget, 65% of your income is due to investment income and income from services such as the sale of photographs, videos and copyrights; 11% comes from “contributions” from the Vatican Museums and the Ior, or Vatican Bank; and a 24% external donations.
The amount of donations is too unstable, also because of the pandemic. In 2021 he has received 15% less of donations compared to last year through the so-called «St. Peter’s Pence». This is the important worldwide collection that is called every June 29 in the parishes to support the daily activity of the Pope and some of his charitable works.
In 2020, 44 million euros were received through this channel, and in 2021, less than 37.
Naturally, the Vatican is looking for alternatives and improving internal efficiency to lose less. The Secretariat for the Economy is activating to raise awareness in episcopal conferences and facilitate donation mechanisms.
Also, to show how you use donations, has improved spending control in the Holy See, process efficiency and transparency.
The largest expenditure items in the budget for this year refer to 52.7 million for Catholic communities with few resources; 47.5 million euros to cover its official media; and 41.2 million to support its nunciatures before 183 states and a handful of international organizations.
As a curious fact, to give a good example, the Vatican Curia tightens its belt, which goes from costing 289 million, compared to 293 in 2021. Theoretically, the contract of new employees has been blocked, as well as the organization of congresses and trips.
The head of Vatican finances, Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, has explained these accounts in writing. “Our goal is to be sustainable, not to have a surplus”, he assures. Discreet and elusive with the media, he prefers that little is said about his work. “If we do things right, it doesn’t seem to me that the economy of the Holy See is of interest to the general public,” he explains.
The surprise that accompanies the publication of the balance sheet is the announcement that the building on London’s Sloane Avenue has been sold, with the purchase of which several Vatican employees and intermediaries looted the secret funds of the Secretariat of State. “We have learned a lot from each other and we have found a method of teamwork that was not widely practiced in the Holy See and that helps,” he acknowledges. The sale, without a doubt, is the symbolic end of a nightmare.