Vatican finances in deficit for second year running

 This morning in the Holy See Press Office Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, presented the 2002 Consolidated Financial Statements for the Holy See. His report was presented to the Holy Father on July 7 and to the Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See on July 8. The Cardinal noted that this is the first such consolidated statement expressed in Euro. He also said it was "the second negative result that follows upon a period of surpluses right up to 2000." He said the 2002 deficit for the Holy See was 13,506,722 Euro ($15,290,960). Some of the factors leading to a deficit include an economic crisis that began in the last part of 2000, the stock markets that have fallen, a fall in gross national product consumption in the Euro zone, and the gradual rise of the Euro against the dollar which, by the year end, has lost 18 percent of its initial value. Vatican City State has 1,511 employees, including four officials, 75 religious and 1,432 lay people. There are 566 pensioners. "As a consolidated financial statement," he said, "it represents as an integrated whole all the income and expenses of the various Vatican administrations that are within the area of consolidation: It thus includes the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA) - which is the most important in that it provides for all the administrative operations of almost the totality of the offices and entities of the Roman Curia - the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Apostolic Camera, Vatican Radio, L'Osservatore Romano (merged with regard to administration), the Vatican Television Centre and the Vatican Publishing House." Cardinal Sebastiani then took a look at the entries of the operating statement which are expressed in four categories: 1. Institutional Activity, 2. Financial Activity, 3. the Real Estate Sector, and 4. the activity of the Media Institutions. The only one that had a surplus was the Real Estate sector (part of APSA), with a gain of 19,082,000 Euro ($21,658,070). He stated that the institutional activity of the Curia involves offices - Secretariat of State, congregations, councils, tribunals, Synod of Bishops and others - "which, called as they are to render services, do not produce income." The biggest improvement was in the activity of the Media Institutions which had a loss of 1,659,000 Euro ($1,882,965) in 2002, compared to a loss of 21,636,000 Euro ($24,556,860) in 2001. Vatican Radio traditionally has the largest expenses in this sector. Peter's Pence offerings by the faithful for 2002 increased by 1.8 percent over 2001 to $52,836,693. This sum was used by the Holy Father for charitable purposes, with particular attention paid to Church communities in the Third World and "to alleviate needs brought about because of wars or natural calamities." Source: VIS