The First Time It Happened, The Vatican Opens Up About Wealth

The First Time It Happened, The Vatican Opens Up About Wealth

The Vatican for the first time released information about the properties it owns, Saturday (24/7). The document reveals the holdings of more than 5,000 assets worldwide.

UMMATIMES - This information is divided into two documents, the Holy See's 2020 consolidated financial statements and the first public budget of the Holy See's Heritage Administration (APSA).

APSA, a kind of general accounting firm, manages property and investments, pays salaries, and acts as the purchasing office and human resources department.

In addition to the two documents, each of which includes pie charts, graphs and maps, the Vatican also publishes more than 50 pages of financial material.

The 30-page APSA budget shows that it owns 4,051 properties in Italy and 1,120 properties abroad, excluding embassies around the world.

Only about 14 percent of properties in Italy are rented at market rates, while the remainder are rented at discounted rates, mostly to Roman Catholic Church employees.

About 40 percent of the property is in the form of institutional buildings, such as schools, conventions, and hospitals.

Documentation shows that APSA also has investments in property in upscale areas of London, Geneva, Lausanne and Paris.

One of the buildings located in the South Kensington district, London, suffered heavy losses after it was purchased by the Vatican Secretariat of State as an investment in 2014.

On Tuesday, trials of 10 people involved in the purchase of the building, including a prominent cardinal, began. They were charged with financial crimes, including embezzlement, money laundering, fraud, extortion, and abuse of office.

Father Juan Antonio Guerrero, head of the Vatican's Secretariat of Economics (SPE), told the official Vatican News website that the building will be sold soon.

He said the trial would be a "turning point" for the Vatican's credibility in economic affairs and a similar incident would not be repeated thanks to the actions they had taken.

Last year, Pope Francis revoked the Secretariat of State's control of their funds and transferred them to APSA with SPE oversight.

A separate report on the Holy See's consolidated finances revealed a loss of EUR 64.8 million in 2020, down from a deficit of EUR 79.2 million in 2019.

The Holy See's budget includes the central administration of the Roman Catholic Church, known as the Curia, which oversees the government of the Church's 1.3 billion members worldwide, global diplomatic representation, and media operations.

Vatican City, including the Vatican Museums and the Vatican bank, has a separate budget.

To cover the 2020 deficit, around EUR 50 million was taken from Peter's Pence, a fund donated to help the pope carry out the work of the Church around the world.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit Vatican revenues in 2020.

Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums are often closed or partially open in 2020.

The museum is one of the Vatican's sources of income from admission tickets. In 2019, 6 million people visited the museum.