The Catholic Church’s financial chief has warned that “a very uncertain period lies ahead” for the Vatican’s financial health, despite progress in reducing the Church’s budget deficit.
Fr Juan Antonio Guerrero, Prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, said that Pope Francis’ reforms to the Vatican’s financial and investment policies had contributed to the deficit reduction detailed in the 2021 financial statement released that day.
However, expenditures still continued to grow while revenues dwindled.
“There is no doubt that we cannot act only on expenses by reducing them,” he said. “There will come a time when they cannot be decreased further without compromising the mission, so we are also working on ways to increase revenues.”
In short, said Fr Guerrero, “the Pope’s mission is underfunded.”
The Vatican’s deficit fell to slightly more than 3 million euros last year. Assets grew from 2.2 billion to 3.9 billion euros.
But in recent years the Vatican has faced shrinking donations while financial scandals have cost the Holy See millions and inhibited donations from Catholics worldwide.
Meanwhile the Vatican should face trial in the English courts for the first time in its history, after a 26 July ruling by the Court of Appeal, the highest court within the Senior Courts of England and Wales.
Vatican lawyers have failed in an attempt to prevent English judges from examining the major London property at the centre of the Vatican’s ongoing “trial of the century”.
They tried to argue that English courts should not rule on the Vatican’s £124 million investment in the property at 60 Sloane Avenue, a former Harrods warehouse in Chelsea that was earmarked for development into luxury apartments.
The Vatican claims Raffaele Mincione, a British financier, committed fraud by inflating the price when his companies sold the property in 2018. Its prosecutors have charged Mr Mincione and 10 others with offences of fraud, embezzlement and abuse of office.
However, Mr Mincione maintains he did not do anything wrong and that the property valuation by independent experts was appropriate.
He claims the Vatican has never disclosed evidence to show it lost money nor of his alleged wrongdoing and is seeking to bring the civil action to protect his reputation after suffering “prejudice” as a result of the allegations.