Vatican asks for donations after admitting financial reserves are nearly empty
Covid-19 and the closure of the Vatican Museums resulted in a budget deficit for the Holy See
by: Mireia Jiménez
In an effort of transparency, the Vatican published its 2021 budget and predicted a 50 million euro deficit this year. Until now, Vatican reserves have been used to cover budget deficits of the past few years with the aim of providing transparency to their donors about how their money is spent.
St. Peter's Square, Vatican City. Photo courtesy of Walkerssk via Pixabay
However, the economy minister of Pope Francis, Reverend Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves said donations have decreased due to COVID-19 and
with the Vatican Museums being shut down, the Holy See has to face 94 million euros less of revenue in comparison to 2019.
Guerrero pointed out that during lockdown the Vatican achieved important cuts in their expenditure on travel, consultation fees, real estate maintenance, and assembly expenses. He also expects cuts up to 8% throughout this year.
However, the institution will need to rely on past donations from the faithful to cover the expected 50 million euros deficit in 2021.
Donations made directly to the Holy See of the Catholic Church are commonly known as Peter’s Pence Funds, and they already helped the Vatican to cover over 40 million euros of fiscal deficit in 2020.
The funds, however, have been under investigation due to a 350 million euro real estate investment in London by the Secretariat of State that was partly funded by Peter’s Pence. In addition, various Italian dealers and brokers, as well as Vatican officials have also been investigated for emptying the Holy See’s funds by millions due to fees.
This financial scandal can be traced back to 2019 when The Wall Street Journal published a report that showed how
only 10% of Peter Pence’s donations, which are specifically aimed to help the poor, were used for that purpose.
The rest of the donations (around 50 million euros) were aimed towards “plugging the hole in the Vatican’s own administrative budget”, which caused a crisis of trust among the faithful who believed they were giving for charitable purposes.
With this record of investigation, it is worth asking if the transparency efforts of Pope Francis will be enough to regain the trust of Roman Catholics around the world, as well as to collect the necessary amount needed in 2021.
Image of Pope Francis is by Günther Simmermacher via Pixabay.