Vatican Runs a Deficit Despite Generosity

By Frances D'emilio
The Associated Press

July 10, 2008

VATICAN CITY (AP) The Vatican ran a deficit in 2007, hurt by the weak dollar in generous collection baskets from U.S. faithful and steep costs of running its media, the Holy See said Wednesday.

The Vatican issued financial figures showing a nearly $14.3 million deficit last year.

It cited the sharp drop in the exchange rate for the U.S. dollar. The Vatican in Rome pays many of its expenses in euros, a currency which has soared against the U.S. dollar.

The financial report, released by the Holy See's press office, listed revenues of $371.97 million against expenses of $386.27 million.

The Vatican said its financial investments were hurt "principally by the sharp and rather marked inversion in exchange rates, above all for the U.S. dollar."

The budgets of the last three previous years were all in the black.

The Vatican said rents and other income from its vast real estate holdings helped its finances.

The Vatican Museums, which include the Sistine Chapel, a top tourist attraction, also helped the Holy See's finances. Some 4.3 million people visited the museums in 2007.

But the costs of running Vatican Radio and the Vatican newspaper figured in a $22.9 million deficit in its media division. However, there were surpluses in the budgets in the Vatican Television Center and the Vatican Publishing House.

In 1981, Pope John Paul II had ordered annual financial disclosure as part of his efforts to debunk the idea that the Vatican is rich.

The Vatican's annual Peter's Pence collection worldwide found U.S. faithful the most generous in absolute terms of the amount donated, more than $18.7 million. It also received $14.3 million from a donor who asked to remain anonymous, the Vatican said.

The pope uses that fund for charitable purposes or to build churches in poor countries.

U.S. faithful were the second leading donors, after German faithful, in separate diocesan collections used to help the church worldwide.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.