Beyond the management of the salary payments for around 2,400 Holy See employees, the Extraordinary Section of the APSA also executes payment orders on behalf of various institutions of the Holy See. Moneyval also explained that the APSA, “manages the patrimony entrusted to it, having relationships with banks around the world, investing either in financial markets (deposits, equities, bonds), or in real estate in France, England, and Switzerland.”
In addition to that, “the properties in those countries are managed by APSA’s wholly owned real estate companies. The members of the APSA management are also board members of the real estate companies”.
The Holy See patrimony is estimated in more than 5 billion euros, plus 6 billion euros in real estate.
The decision to move all of these sovereign funds to the APSA came at the end of the May 4 interdicasterial meeting. During the meeting, the heads of Vatican dicasteries discussed the Holy See’s financial situation following the COVID 19 crisis.
The meeting focused on three possible economic outlooks: a drop in income between 30 and 50 percent, a reduction in income between 50 and 60 percent, and a drop income between 60 and 80 percent.
In April, the Vatican City State Administration had already presented a contingency plan for expenses, placing a de facto freeze on any kind of external activity and cancelling all non-essential travel.
In his letter, Fr. Guerrero mentioned the interdicasterial meeting and said that the discussion also pivoted on “the further economic measures needed to strengthen the general financial situation in this particularly negative economic outlook.”
Bottom line: The Holy See needs cash to counter the effects of the economic crisis. The transfer of sovereign funds, however, is not just about meeting the cash crunch. It is part of a broader project to centralize investments. The COVID 19 crisis merely presented the opportunity to carry forward this process .
In the end, only the institutional accounts of the Vatican dicasteries were transferred. Unlike the APSA, the IOR holds the “non-institutional” accounts: those of Vatican employees, Catholic Church entities, institutional entities from other countries, i.e., the embassies to the Holy See.
This plan is intended to save money and increase the room for institutional oversight on the sovereign funds. The dicasteries will likely keep their independence, but yes, there will be no possibility that their financial operations will come unnoticed. This is also why the Data Elaboration Center was moved from the APSA to the Secretariat for the Economy: the APSA cannot control itself, and you need an institutional authority to oversee another institutional authority.
In the meantime, the rationalization of fund management is already underway.
(Column continues below)
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