.- Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, has announced that while several segments within the Vatican lost money in 2005, the Holy See consolidated financial statements for last year closed with a surplus of 9.7 million euro. This, he said, "represents the most significant value of the last eight years."
The financials of the Holy See have been slowly improving over the last four years. In 2004 the budget closed with a surplus of 3.08 million euro, which was the first surplus in three years. In 2003 the Holy See was in the red by 9.6 million euro.
The budget surplus comes as the Holy See continues to expand its spiritual support for the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics. The Vatican diplomatic service, in particular, has continued to expand its presence throughout the developing world.
In terms of the institutional activity of the Holy See (Secretariat of State, congregations, councils, tribunals, the Synod of Bishops and various other offices), the president indicated that the sector closed the year with a deficit of 36.9 million euro, an increase with respect to 2004, which had closed with a deficit of 23.2 million euro.
Sebastiani said that the costs associated with the funeral of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI contained within the portion of the report concerning “other income and expenses,” closed with a negative result of seven million euro. Nonetheless, the cost of the transition in pontificates was expected to have a greater effect than it did on the financials in general.
A large reason for the surplus, Sebastiani said, was the improvement of the situation of the financial markets which occurred in the course of 2005. A net positive fluctuation of 21.7 million euro was registered in 2005 while a net loss of roughly 11 million euro occurred in 2004 due to fluctuations in the rates of exchange." For its part, the real estate sector closed with a surplus of 22.2 million euro, slightly down on last year's closing figure of 24.9 million euro.
The activity of the media institutions connected with the Holy See (Vatican Radio, the Vatican Printing Office, L'Osservatore Romano newspaper, the Vatican Publishing House and the Vatican Television Center), closed with a deficit of 11.8 million euro, "substantially due to the negative results of Vatican Radio (about 23.5 million euro) and of L'Osservatore Romano (4.6 million euro)," said Cardinal Sebastiani. Nonetheless, "the Vatican Printing Office closed its financial statement with a surplus of 653,000 euro, and the Vatican Television Center closed with a profit of 650,000 euro. ... The Vatican Publishing House also closed its 2005 financial statement with a surplus of 934,000 euro and with a rise of 3.8 million euro in the volume of the activity." In this context, the cardinal recalled how the Vatican Publishing House has been entrusted with the exercise and the guardianship of the copyright of "all the documents by means of which the Supreme Pontiff exercises his teaching."
The cardinal also said that offers from the faithful to Peter's Pence, the fund which goes directly to the Holy Father's works of evangelical solidarity, came to 46,741,000 euro in the year 2005, an increase of 14.95 percent with respect to 2004.