The Vatican on an Austerity Budget

February 09, 2022

In Rome, the belt will have to be tightened a notch more in 2022. Faced with a projected budget deficit of 33.4 million euros, now is the time to cut spending.

The Secretariat for the Economy, a dicastery founded in 2014 and placed under the direct authority of the sovereign pontiff, published its report on January 28, 2022. Its mission is to implement, according to the guidelines defined by the council for the economy, the policies of economic and budgetary control of the Roman Curia, of the institutions linked to the Holy See, and of the Vatican City State.

A good point however, the projected deficit is lower than last year, since the expenses of the micro-State then exceeded the revenues by 42 million euros.

The 2022 budget added 30 entities that were not included in the previous year's budget. Now 90 institutions are integrated into the Vatican's accounts in order to allow for “a more complete view of the economic situation.”

These new entities do not come under the Roman Curia, although they are properties of the Holy See or under its responsibility, like several important basilicas such as St. Mary Major, or the sanctuaries of Loreto, Pompeii, and Padua.

The Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital is also entering the Vatican budget. It alone represents 392 million euros in additional expenditure.

Three entities are expected to be included in next year's budget, including Padre Pio’s hospital Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza in San Giovanni Rotondo, founded by the famous Capuchin.

The drop in donations, linked to the effects of the pandemic, continues: -9.5 million euros will impact the year 2022, after a drop of 9.7 million euros the previous year.

Nevertheless, revenues should be on the rise, boosted by the contributions planned by the Secretariat for the Economy: those from services, mainly the Bambino Gesu Hospital (323 million euros), private donations, and those from the dioceses (186 million), as well as property income (96 million), commercial income (63.6 million) and financial contributions amounting to 30.1 million.

The reduction in expenditures, which began a few years ago, continues, particularly within the Curia: thus, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples – which exercises its jurisdiction over the mission countries, which represent half of the dioceses in the world – thus sees its forecasted expenditures cut by 15%, from 25 to 21 million euros.

The same treatment is being given to the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life (-30%), communication (-11%), and even the Vatican bookstore (-12%), and the Eastern Churches (-7%).

According to information from the newspaper La Croix, the reduction in the salaries of priests and religious working in the Curia and the freezing of lay salaries, decided by Pope Francis in March 2021, have enabled savings of 2 to 3 million euros.

But there is still a long way to go, because the allowances paid to some 3,000 employees of the Curia reach nearly 50% of the financial costs borne by the Vatican. “Our goal is to be viable and not to have a surplus,” explains Fr. Juan Antonio Guerrero, who believes that the Holy See is trying to learn from the “big mistakes of the past.”

“More professionalism, more teamwork, more transparency, and fewer secrets, for clean accounting,” such is the program of the current prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, who thereby intends to definitively turn the page after yesterday's mistakes, some of which are currently making headlines in Vatican legal news.