The Vatican must adopt “effective” cost reduction measures in the wake of the global economic crisis, Pope Benedict XVI’s No. 2 official warned on Dec. 18.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, told
employees of the Holy See’s budget department that, in the face of
“continuing inability to increase revenues,” a “gradual, but effective,
reduction of costs” was needed to reduce recent budget deficits.
In 2011, the Holy See posted its highest loss in more than a decade,
with a negative balance of $19 million (15 million euros), blaming it on
the “negative trend of global financial markets.”
The loss was compounded by a marked increase in expenses, which
jumped by $37 million (28 million euros), while revenues registered only
a slight increase.
In recent years, European countries have been forced to adopt drastic
austerity measures in the face of a sluggish economic growth and rising
debt. The Vatican, too, has been forced to walk down the same path.
This year’s nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square, which was
unveiled on Christmas Eve, cost around $ 160,000 in total, with only
$29,000 paid by the Vatican itself and the rest covered by the Italian
region of Basilicata.
This is a drastic savings compared to past years.
Documents that came
to light during the Vatileaks affair showed that, in 2009, the Vatican
spent $730,000 for the St. Peter’s creche.
The Vatican budget office, known as the Prefecture for the Economic
Affairs, has been given vast new powers to oversee and control expenses
in all Vatican departments and institutions.
The new rules came into
force last February and the Prefecture’s head, Italian Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, said that “substantial improvements” in the Vatican’s ability to
raise money are not foreseeable in the near future.
“The only solution
is to reduce costs by planning a rationalization and optimization of
current resources,” he said.