Donations are down 25%, a net loss of 85% of profitable revenue for the Vatican Museums, and millions of euros in rent rebates for firms in trouble: fiscal 2020 for Pope Francis, dressed in red, is taking a hit after a dark epidemic year.
“It is a difficult period for the Vatican, as it is for everyone else in the world,” the senior church official who was able to review and comment on the 2020 accounts admitted to AFP. However, “the financial situation is not alarming.”
Romanian Korea or the Holy See, which includes 60 entities in the service of the Pope, shows a gap of “€ 90 million” in its 2020 accounts, compared to a deficit of € 11 million in 2019.
This is just one piece of the puzzle of non-consolidated Vatican accounts, counted separately for the Vatican State Prefecture (which runs the museums), the Vatican Bank, Saint Peter’s Dinarius (the donations of the faithful), and the pension funds and foundations. All services combined, the Vatican employs approximately 5,000 people, with the same salaries.
The Vatican said on Wednesday that Korea’s 2021 budget has already been discussed Tuesday by the “Economic Council,” which nearly two dozen of its members have met by video link from around the world, without going into details.
Museums: about 100 million trips
In the past year, the Holy See had to rely on its financial reserves, which were well stocked enough to allow it, if necessary, to stay “a few years” without having to give up real estate. In doing so, it compensated for a “20-25%” decline in its income in 2020, which should be repeated in 2021, according to the Vatican source.
The Denarius of Saint Peter, an annual collection of global donations made to the Pope by the faithful, must show a 25% decrease (€ 53 million was raised in 2019). Other large donations from dioceses or foundations recorded a similar decline.
The Vatican Museums reopening on February 1, after the Italians stormed on Saturday, is good news. Because these museums (7 million tourists in 2019) lost 85% of their income in 2020, which is a deficit of “one hundred million euros”.
Unsurprisingly, the province of the Vatican state that runs it has had to dip in its wool socks and cut the 30 million euros it generally gives to Korea for her work.
But the Vatican Bank (IOR) contributed the most to Korea’s accounts, amounting to 32 million euros (compared to 12 million in 2019).
With this pandemic, the Pope’s services were spent more on humanitarian work and to aid, for example, the Churches of the East. The Vatican, the property owner, has also backed struggling companies with low commercial rents.
Rent: $ 2.6 Million Refund
“The measures that we adopted in March were renewed until the end of 2020, with rents being reduced and postponed (for 2.6 and 2.9 million euros, respectively),” Archbishop Nunzio Galantino, head of the Holy See’s Heritage Administration (APSA), told AFP: “We cannot rule out similar measures. In the near future”.
Meanwhile, Korea last year achieved 10% savings thanks to canceling conferences and trips, according to a Vatican source who commented on the budget to AFP.
The space for maneuver is still narrow for the Vatican, which “cannot borrow or raise taxes like the state,” as explained at the beginning of October, the Spanish Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, who has been head of the Vatican State Economy Secretariat since January 2020.
To those who focus on impotence and improving the bad management of the church, the official replied that “the Holy See does not operate as a business” because it is “not profit-seeking”.
For example, the Vatican maintains 125 permanent diplomatic representations, and funds media that operate in 40 languages to convey the Pope’s message, but the historical heritage must also be preserved including, in particular, the formidable St. Peter’s Basilica.