The Vatican reported the Roman Curia had a €66.3 million deficit in 2020, and on the same day, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, which administers Vatican properties and investments, made a summary of its annual budget public for the first time.
Releasing both reports July 24, the Vatican said the coronavirus pandemic had a serious negative impact on the Vatican’s financial situation, including the €66.3 million deficit in the consolidated budget report for 2020.
In an interview with Vatican News, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, known by its Italian initials APSA, said making the budget synthesis public was “a step forward in the direction of transparency and sharing”.
“The release of the balance sheet is a sign of great respect for all those who, with trust and generosity, have placed and continue to place part of their resources in the hands of the Catholic Church,” Bishop Galantino said.
In 2019, Italian journalist and author Gianluigi Nuzzi claimed in his book Giudizio Universale (Universal Judgment) that decades of mismanagement of the Vatican’s investment portfolio and real estate holdings by APSA would leave the Vatican no choice but to default by 2023.
APSA directly administers 4,051 properties in Italy and entrusts to outside companies the administration of some 1,200 properties in London, Paris, Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland, the Vatican report said.
During the 2020 fiscal year, APSA reported a profit of almost €22 million, compared to €73.21 million in 2019.
Aside from the economic challenges posed by the pandemic – including a need to reduce the rents of businesses that could not function during lockdown – Bishop Galantino told Vatican News the drop in its income was largely due to the “changing behaviour of the securities market”.
Jesuit Fr Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, told Vatican News that. while 2020 was not a good year, the Roman Curia’s budget deficit was “better than what we expected”.
Before the pandemic, he explained, the Vatican projected a budget deficit of €53 million. However, in the midst of the pandemic, the office figured the best-case scenario would be a deficit of €68 million while the worst case would a deficit of €146 million.
“Instead, with a deficit of €66.3 million, the end result was slightly better than the projected best-case scenario, and decisively better than what we had projected in the revised budget in March,” Fr Guerrero said.
While most Vatican offices reduced costs during the year, Fr Guerrero also noted that in 2019 the Peter’s Pence collection was used to subsidise 32% of Vatican dicasteries’ expenses, while in 2020 it was used to cover only 24%.