A deficit of just over three million euros compared to the 33 million expected: the balance sheet is positive even if it nevertheless hides structural weaknesses. This is what emerges from the Vatican finance report for the year 2021, which has just been made public.
Fr. Juan Antonio Guerrero, with a serene visage, made the presentation on August 5, 2022, the date on which the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy sums up the results of the public balance sheet of the Vatican's finances for the year 2021.
Throughout a 10-page document – a real exercise in transparency – he reports that the Holy See presented a deficit of 3.3 million euros for the 2021 financial year, when the expectation was instead for 33.4 million. That is ten times less than expected: for the record, for the financial year 2020, the deficit reached 66 million euros.
“The Holy See has reduced its patrimony every year to cover the services of the Roman Curia,” commented Fr. Guerrero, with his usual sobriety. A victory for the man who presents himself as the great defender of “transparency” regarding the Church accounts, which the Roman Pontiff has made one of his priorities.
“We have taken many steps during this period in the direction of transparency, the economic protection of the Holy See, and sustainability,” added the Secretary for the Economy.
And for good reason, since at the end of last July, the micro-State presented its new “ethical” and “sustainable” investment policy, which includes, among other things, the closing of its offshore accounts, and the prohibition of investments in the armaments industry.
The unexpected results of the Vatican's finances are partly explained by the favorable market trend and the fall in the exchange rate with the dollar, but they should not hide the structural problems encountered.
Fr. Guerrero does not hide it: “if we do a detailed analysis, there are areas that need to be improved,” he confessed. Thus, the Holy See sells for 20-25 million euros of heritage on average each year “because the mission of the pope is not sufficiently financed,” explains the Jesuit. Worrying sales for the future.
And for good reason, many dicasteries perform a service for which they receive no economic benefit: “we cannot offset the expenses of certain entities through the income of all the others,” recognizes the head of Vatican finances.
Moreover, the Roman Curia sector remains in a deficit, up to 10 million euros, despite the 56 million saved compared to 2020, and the diet forced by Pope Francis. The prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy nuances: “we are not at the head of a company, the economy must serve and not govern.”