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Vatican reports worst deficit in years: $18.4 million

The effects of the euro zone debt crisis has reached into some of the holiest of halls, pushing the Vatican into one of its worst budget deficits in years.

The Holy See on Thursday reported a shortfall of 14.9 million euros, or $18.4 million.

“The result was affected by the negative trend of global financial markets, which made it impossible to achieve the goals laid down in the budget,” according to a statement from the Catholic Church’s governing body.

Administrators also blamed the gulf on the cost of paying the Vatican’s 2,832 employees and spreading the Catholic faith via its various communications outlets, which include a newspaper and radio and television channels.

In 2010, the Holy See enjoyed a surplus of nearly 9.9 million euros (about $12 million) after a string of deficits.

The Vatican city state, a separate and autonomous state, said it was 21.8 million euros (almost $27 million) in the black. More than 5 million visitors flooded into Vatican museums, pushing revenue up 8.9 million euros to 91.3 million euros last year.

Donations to support the pope’s charities rose 2 million euros to 69.7 million euros (about $86 million).

The Vatican’s financial institutions are key to the power struggle over control of the next papacy following Pope Benedict XVI’s term, according to a recent report from the Economist.

The Vatican has made attempts to be more financially open for years. A report evaluating the Holy See's compliance with anti-money laundering standards was passed down Wednesday by the so-called Moneyval committee of the Council of Europe.

The findings, however, won't be public for another month.

In May, the pope spoke out after his personal butler was arrested by Vatican police and accused of stealing and leaking confidential Vatican documents. The pope blamed the media for exaggerating rumors and painting an unflattering portrait of the Holy See.

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