UNCLAS VATICAN 000494
DEPT. FOR EUR/WE (LEVIN)
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON EFIN VT
SUBJECT: VATICAN BOOKS IN THE BLACK
Â¶1. (U) The Holy See ended 2004 with a budget surplus for the
first time in four years, showing a profit of nearly $3.7
million. The budget covers all government departments and
activities, as well as the Holy See's embassies and diplomatic
offices around the world. During 2004, the Vatican took in some
$247 million (at an exchange rate of US$1.20 to the euro), and
spent just over $243 million. As in previous years, one of the
biggest drains on the Holy See coffers was Vatican Radio, which
does not accept advertising revenues and requires some $30
million to run. The Holy See will continue investing heavily in
Vatican Radio's worldwide broadcasts in any case, judging this
outreach particularly valuable in developing nations with
limited communications networks.
Â¶2. (U) Vatican City State has a separate budget within the
Holy See's accounting system. It had a budget surplus of $6.5
million dollars in 2004. This budget includes the care and
upkeep of Vatican buildings and museums, artworks restoration,
as well as income from the Vatican's coin and stamp offices and
entrance fees to the Vatican Museums. The Vatican City State
budget was in the black despite some $15 million being siphoned
off earnings to cover half the deficit at Vatican Radio.
Â¶3. (U) The bad news for the Holy See in the 2004 budget
statement was that donations from Catholics around the world to
Peter's Pence (a fund used by popes for charity and development
projects, but also at times to offset the deficit) amounted to
some $52 million - down 7.4 percent from 2003. U.S. Catholics
continue to be among the top donors worldwide to this fund.
However, separate income levied from individual dioceses around
the world (canon law urges but does not force bishops to
contribute to the Holy See as a sign of solidarity) amounted to
$27 million - up 8.2 percent from the previous year.
Â¶4. (U) The Holy See's budget contains some interesting
"numbers" beyond euros and dollars. In 2004, some 2,663 people
worked for the Holy See, of whom 759 were priests, 346 monks and
nuns and 1,558 lay people. Another 1,560 people worked for
Vatican City State. The Holy See maintains 118 embassies abroad
and 9 representations to international organizations.
Â¶5. (SBU) Comment: The 2004 budget figures continue to dispel
the myth that the Vatican possesses extraordinary financial
wealth. One modest surplus in four years is not the stuff of a
major financial player. We expect its expenses for 2005 to
increase substantially because of the papal transition, probably
resulting in a deficit for this year.
2005VATICA00494 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED