Vatican ‘finds’ $1.4 billion in assets

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Under new reporting procedures that are more in line with international accounting standards, the Holy See reported A$1.4 billion in net assets that had never been reported before and in a consolidated form.

The Vatican’s final figures for 2014 also showed a continued budget deficit on the part of the Roman Curia and nearly double the profits brought in by entities falling under the separate Vatican City State budget.

Cardinal George Pell pictured in a 2014 file photo. Photo: CNS
Cardinal George Pell pictured in a 2014 file photo. Photo: CNS

In fact, the profits coming from the Vatican Museums, “cultural activities” and investments offset the deficit in the consolidated budgets of the Roman Curia and Vatican communications outlets to help the Vatican end the year A$60 million in the black.

The Council for the Economy financial statements were published on 16 July and prepared by the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, the Vatican’s budget management office.

The statements were “reviewed and verified” by the Secretariat for the Economy, headed by former Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, as well as by a brand new auditing committee of lay experts and an external auditor.

A Vatican press office statement had offered much of the same kind of information included in statements issued each year.

However, the one new figure released publicly was of the net assets of the Holy See, A$1.4 billion, which represents money never included in the Vatican’s old system of budgeting and reporting.

Cardinal Pell said in December the new budgeting and reporting procedures had meant the secretariat discovered “some hundreds of millions of euros were tucked away in particular sectional accounts and did not appear on the balance sheet”. It was later explained the money did not represent “illegal, illicit or badly managed funds”, just assets being held in numerous offices that were not considered part of the main institutions of the Curia.

For 2014, however, all departments, bodies and foundations of the Holy See were required to report all assets and all liabilities.

The budget of the Holy See, which is made up of 64 “entities,” ended 2014 with a deficit of more than A$38.8 million.