European austerity measures reach the Vatican budget

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican must adopt “effective” cost reduction measures in the wake of the global economic crisis, Pope … Continued

VATICAN CITY — 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 Tuesday (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 will be 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 but will be officially unveiled to the press on Thursday (Dec. 20).

The Prefecture’s head, Italian Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, said on Tuesday 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.

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  • question1

    As a former Catholic, this is the kind of stuff that really drove me out the door. It’s obscene, IMO. None of the plump, well-dressed Cardinals knows how to swing a hammer or use a saw? They couldn’t build a Nativity Scene & store it from year to year? How about hand-me-down hats & robes? Or a Church Rummage Sale? Or clipping coupons?

    I know nuns had to take vows of poverty, chastity & obedience; maybe the Vatican crew should take some lessons. There are monks in NJ that support their community by growing & selling Xmas trees.

    Maybe I’ll tweet the Pope with the suggestions.

  • ONE OF MANY, USA CITIZEN

    It would be of great interest if the world could see their books. In the USA with the American bishops always speaking on political matters as well in the last election telling people how to vote directly and indirectly, why are they who have violated the tax exempt law’s rules that will claim tax exempt of their diocese and get away with it for 2012 tax year? Congress needs to rewrite the tax exempt law’s rules as well as the IRS fully enforce the law’s rules. Do they practice what they preach?

  • ONE OF MANY, USA CITIZEN

    This pope needs to be tweeted by many with questions that need his answers.