.- The Vatican's accounts continue to run in the red but have improved from last year, the Holy See announced on Saturday. Deficits from the past are gradually being reabsorbed.
Three days of meetings took place this week between members of the Council of Cardinals, the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See and the Vatican City State Governorate. The sessions focused on organizational and economic matters of the Holy See and the governorate in 2009.
Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, president of the prefecture and incidentally named the Pontifical delegate to the Legion of Christ on Friday, reported a nearly $5.2 million deficit for 2009 in the Holy See's balance sheet, which contained over $321 million in expenses.
On a positive note, the Holy See's statement explained that the "negative fluctuations" which had been "suspended" in 2008 were "absorbed" this year. Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told journalists that these "fluctuations" amounted to between eight and ten million Euro ($10.1-12.6 million).
Expenses largely result from the activities of Vatican dicasteries and other bodies, including Vatican Radio, that "participate in the pastoral care of the Pontiff of the Universal Church."
The Governorate of the Vatican City State, which is economically independent from the Holy See, reported a deficit of $9.8 million, a little less than half of last year's declared shortfall. While the negative figure was attributed to the effects of the global economic crisis, its "containment" gave the governorate the opportunity to regain momentum from financial losses in 2008.
The Vatican statement underscored that the administration of the governorate does not depend on contributions from the Holy See and that it "autonomously confronts its own economic necessities."
Among the most notable costs during 2009 were those for a study carried out for a new communications infrastructure, improvements to the Vatican Museums, the care of Vatican patrimony which includes all of the Papal basilicas, security within the Vatican and restructuring of the Vatican Apostolic Library.
The three major sources of income for 2009 were contributions from Peter's Pence of $81.5 million, from the Catholic dioceses of the world of $31.5 million and from other institutions including the Vatican's Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) which donated $63.2 million.
The statement concluded with words of gratitude from members of the Council of Cardinals to all who, "in a generous and often anonymous way, sustain the apostolic and charitable ministry of the Holy Father in service of the Universal Church."