In a move that would have Tetzel spinning in his grave, the Vatican has released their budget, balance sheet, and earnings statement for the first time in nearly 5 years, a move prompted by the insistence on more financial transparency after several high-profile financial scandals.
The Economy Prefect Rev. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, commented publicly that faithful Roman Catholics have a right to know they are spending their money and utilizing their vast holdings, quoted Pope Francis that “the economy of Holy See must be as transparent as a glass house,” acknowledging:
It’s possible that in some cases, the Holy See has been not only poorly counseled but also defrauded. I think we’re learning from the errors or imprudent (decisions) of the past.
The move comes as the Roman Curia deals with a major scandal, with the third-highest ranking Cardinal resigning after being accused of spending over $900,000 of Vatican funds to bribe witnesses in a sex abuse case against one of his rivals.
According to RNS:
The report shows the Vatican Curia earned more than $360 million in 2019, with an expenditure of almost $374 million, leaving a deficit of about $14 million, which is an improvement from the over $88 million deficit it incurred the previous year.
The net assets reported in the budget amount to more than $1.6 billion (with the vast majority of assets never being appraised – if they were, estimates would add another $7 billion to that number).
The official numbers refer specifically to the Roman Curia, which comprises the 60 institutions and departments charged with administering and enacting Pope Francis’ goals for integral human development, evangelization and education projects.
The figures do not include the budgets of the Vatican Museums, donations to the Peter’s Pence charitable fund, the Vatican bank or numerous other funds and institutions, which together brought in over $4.7 billion in 2019.
The total assets of the Roman Catholic Church, and not just the Vatican, however, has long been considered impossible to assess, though certainly, it would be one of, if not the wealthiest entities on earth.
The Church has an estimated 620,000 sq miles of land that they own, having embassies, convents, churches, cathedrals, monasteries, schools, and other private holdings. They have an estimated 10 billion in investments in foreign companies, have art, gold, statues, priceless books, and enormous funds. The church paid out nearly 3 billion dollars in sex-abuse cases in the United States alone.