Vatican reports income boost in charitable fund, even as donations dip following financial scandals

  • london
  • June 30, 2023
  • Comments Off on Vatican reports income boost in charitable fund, even as donations dip following financial scandals

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The Vatican on Friday reported that a key charitable fund, Peter’s Pence, doubled its income in 2022 to 107 million euros, or more than $166 million, even as donations from the faithful dipped slightly following years of scandal over financial mismanagement at the Holy See.

Overall, the Peter’s Pence fund, which finances the Vatican bureaucracy and the pope’s charitable projects around the world, ended 2022 with 11.5 million euros in surplus compared to an 18.4 million-euro deficit in 2021. That year, it only brought in 46.9 million euros in income, according to the financial statement.

It’s the second year that the Holy See has published a dedicated financial statement for the Peter’s Pence fund, part of Pope Francis’ push for greater financial transparency in a bid to assure the faithful that their contributions are being put to good use.

The disclosures follow years of scandal, in particular the Vatican secretariat of state’s 350 million-euro investment in a London real estate deal that is currently the subject of a criminal trial in the Vatican tribunal. Prosecutors initially alleged that the money invested came from the Peter’s Pence fund, but Vatican officials have since corrected prosecutors and said the money came from other sources.

The scandal over the London real estate deal — plus broader financial problems and the effects of the pandemic, which shuttered churches and deprived them of Mass collections — has led to a fall in donations. Contributions from private individual donors and dioceses, which dedicate a specific Mass collection to the Peter’s Pence fund each June 29, recorded slight decreases in 2022, though income was more than made up for by the sale and management of the Vatican’s vast real estate holdings, the financial statement said.

Once again, the United States was the biggest overall donor to the Peter’s Pence fund, offering 13 million euros in 2022 compared to 11 million euros the previous year. Other big donors were Italy and Germany, but they too offered less last year than the previous. South Korea sent in 3.5 million euros, more than twice what it sent the previous year to move into second place. New to the top 10 donor list in 2022 were Mexico and Slovakia, while Canada and Czech Republic dropped off.

This year’s surplus comes even as expenses in funding the Holy See’s bureaucracy ballooned to 383.9 million euros last year, compared to 237.7 million euros in 2021, in large part because more church-run entities were included in the accounting.

On the charitable front, some of the projects that were funded by Peter’s Pence contributions last year were aid to Ukrainians affected by the war, construction of churches and chapels in Brazil, Bangladesh and Angola and support for training nuns in Malawi.