Vatican Announces Staggering 500% Increase in Deficit

Pope Francis gives an open air mass in Villavicencio, Colombia, on September 8, 2017. - Pope Francis urged Colombians to avoid seeking "vengeance" for the sufferings of their country's half-century civil conflict as they work towards a lasting peace. (Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP) (Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via …
ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty

ROME — The Vatican announced Saturday a deficit of €66.3 million in its consolidated balance sheet for the year 2020, nearly sextupling its 2019 deficit of €11.3 million.

Last year’s deficit “was €11.1 million and this year’s is €66.3 million,” Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, told Vatican Radio. “But I must recall that this represents solely the Holy See’s balance Sheet.”

While recognizing that 2020 was not “a good year,” Father Guerrero said that it was expected to be even worse.

“When Covid hit, the deficit we projected in the best-case scenario was around €68 million; in the worst-case scenario we projected €146 million. The middle-case scenario projected a €97 million deficit,” the priest said.

“The end result, instead, with a deficit of €66.3 million, was slightly better than the projected best-case scenario, and decisively better than what we had projected in the revised budget in March,” he stated.

While 2020’s ordinary deficit was €14.4 million less than the 2019 ordinary deficit, “the return on financial investments was down by €51.8 million and the extraordinary profit was down by €17.8 million.”

In recent years, the Vatican has suffered from a number of financial scandals, from asking American benefactors millions of dollars to bail out a corruption-laden Italian hospital to the investment of millions in dubious enterprises like the purchase of a luxury property in London’s Chelsea district or the financing of the steamy Elton John biopic Rocket Man, which purportedly contained “the most explicit gay love scene since Brokeback Mountain in 2005.”

In 2018, the Holy See indicted the former president of the Vatican Bank for embezzlement and more recently indicted its own former number-3 man, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who will be tried for embezzlement, abuse of office, and bribery.

The scandals were multiplied by the revelation that mis-invested funds had come from monies donated by the Catholic faithful through worldwide “Peter’s Pence” collections, which are slated to finance the pope’s charitable actions around the world.

In his interview with Vatican Radio, Father Guerrero declared that Peter’s Pence donations had fallen by 18 percent in 2020.

While contributions to Peter’s Pence totaled €74 million in 2018, Guerrero noted, they dropped to €66 million in 2019 and fell again to €50 million in 2020.

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