Vatican Budget is in the red, but church offerings are up, Cardinal reports

Vatican Budget is in the red, but church offerings are up, Cardinal reports

.- A supervisory committee of eight cardinals headed by Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani announced yesterday that the Vatican budget is in the red for the third consecutive year, despite the raise in offerings.

Sebastiani explained that there was a loss both for the Holy See (the central organization of the Roman Catholic Church) and the Vatican State, which has its own employees and sources of income.

The Cardinal said the Vatican had an income of 203.6 million euro ($351.4 million) in 2003, and a deficit of nearly 9.6 million euro ($16.6 million) compared to 13.5 million euro ($23.3 million) the previous year.

The Vatican gets income from investments, real estate, legacies and donations by the faithful called Peter's Pence, which increased 5.7 per cent last year to 45.2 million euro ($78 million). But officials said the pope gives this money away to people affected by war and natural calamities.

The Vatican would not have registered a loss last year had it not made up the 10 million euro ($17.3 million) deficit of Vatican Radio, which maintains a global broadcasting system considered critical especially for missionary regions or where Christians are being persecuted.

Cardinal Sebastiani said the Vatican spends most of its money on wages for the 2,674 employees of the Roman Curia, the central bureaucracy, and nearly 1,000 pensioners.

The Cardinal also said that the 44 hectare Vatican City State had an 8.2 million euro ($14.2 million) deficit in 2003, 45 per cent less than the previous year.

Vatican City, which has its own railway station and helicopter pad, employs 1,534 people, including the so-called “Sanpietrini,” the workers responsible for the upkeep of  the buildings and art works.

Also restoration works at the Vatican  took their toll on 2003 accounts despite a small increase in global church offerings.

The 2003 deficit shrank to 9.6 million euros ($11.86 million) from 13.5 million euros the year before.

Church offerings were up 5.7 percent at 55.8 million euros, but not enough to offset higher costs. Donations were mostly earmarked for the victims of conflict and natural disasters.

The shortfalls come after eight years of budget surpluses, thanks in part to the strong international financial markets.

The Holy See's budget is smaller than some individual Catholic dioceses around the world.

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