He also said that the ongoing budget deficit "has nothing to do with" "poor administration" or an "immobile bureaucracy." The priest added that the Peter's Pence collection is not used as a deficit stop-gap, but is instead a donation intended to finance the mission of the Holy See, including the pope's charitable work.
Forty-five percent of the Holy See's budget goes to payroll, but neither Il Messaggero nor Guerrero said directly that layoffs could be coming. Instead, the internal report cited by the Italian newspaper discussed training staff to be able to complete more tasks, and mentioned the need for a broad overhaul of the Holy See's approach to personnel, which it said was unlikely to happen amid current circumstances.
Guerrero started his term as the Vatican's finance minister in January, after Pope Francis made the appointment in November 2019, to fill the position left empty by Cardinal George Pell's departure in summer 2017.
The priest explained the distribution of the Holy See's expenses, stating that roughly 45% covers personnel, 45% general and administrative expenses, and 7.5% is donated.
"There is a goal behind these numbers," the priest said. "Behind the balance sheet there is a mission, the service that these expenses make possible. Perhaps we need to better explain, tell the story better. We certainly need to be clearer."
Some portions of the Holy See's budget, 15%, or 48 million, is used to operate Vatican Media and the related communications and publishing operations, he said. Ten percent goes to the nunciatures, the Vatican' embassies in foreign countries.
Another 10% goes to support the Eastern churches and another 8.5% to the mission churches, according to Guerrero.
He also said that 6% of the budget, roughly 17 million, is paid in taxes to Italy every year.
About the impact COVID-19 will have on the Holy See's finances, Guerrero said their calculations estimate a decrease in income of 25 to 45%.
He said the Holy See intends to cut expenses this year to help make up for the likely smaller revenue, but "it is clear that the deficit will increase."
"We have asked each Entity to do everything possible to reduce expenses while safeguarding the essential services of its specific mission. At a more structural level (since the deficit is structural), we will have to centralize financial investments, improve personnel management, improve procurement management. Guidelines for procurement are about to be approved which will certainly lead to savings. We are working in constant collaboration with all the dicasteries, combining centralisation with subsidiarity; autonomy with checks and balances; professionalism with vocation."
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The prefect said he hopes to release a budget sheet sometime this year to show that the Holy See spends its money "to do good, and in the service of the Church."
"It deserves trust."
"We are not a great power. You can talk about the difficulty of making it in the large European countries. Imagine us. We need to be humble. We are a family with a small patrimony and the generous help of many. We'll make it with our ability to manage well, with the help of God and the faithful. The whole Church is sustained in this way."