By Alessandro De Carolis
"The Church is us, all of us! All baptized persons are the Church, Jesus’ Church. Made up of all those who follow the Lord Jesus and who, in His name, come close to the least and the suffering, seeking to offer a little relief, comfort and peace.” Pope Francis' words from his 29 October 2014 General Audience seal the five pages of figures that put the 2021 budget of Peter's Pence, or the Obolo, in black and white.
In 2021, the Obolo’s income amounted to € 46.9 million, while the expenses sustained totaled € 65.3 million.
About Peter's Pence
Peter’s Pence is the name given to the financial support offered by the faithful to the Holy Father as a sign of their sharing in the concern of the Successor of Peter for the many different needs of the Universal Church and for the relief of those most in need.
Contributions to Peter’s Pence for the exercise of the Pope’s universal mission, are directed in two ways: in financing the many activities of service carried out by the Curia (e.g. formation of the clergy, communication, promotion of integral human development, education, justice, etc.) and in contributing to numerous works of material assistance for the most in need.
Peter’s Pence has a dual aim: 1) support for the universal mission of the Successor of Saint Peter, who, for this purpose, makes use of a group of offices called the Roman Curia (cf. canons 360-361 of the Code of Canon Law) and more than one hundred Pontifical Representatives throughout the world (cf. canons 362ff. of the Code of Canon Law); 2) support for the charitable works of the Pope on behalf of those most in need.
Other collections for the Holy Father take place on World Mission Day, celebrated annually on the penultimate Sunday in October, and the annual collection for the Holy Land on Good Friday.
General picture of 2021
The support for last year resulted in a collection that reached a total of 47 million Euro (46.9 to be exact), against expenses of 65.3 million Euro. For a comparison, in 2020 the collection had just exceeded 44 million (44.1).
Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves S.J, Prefect of the Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy, recalled that Peter's Pence's decreases were compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To make up the total of the proceeds in 2021 were the various items that feed Peter's Pence. They started from the collection carried out during the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul in all the dioceses of the world, to arrive at the offers received through transfers, donations, bequests, inheritances and through contributions made using the web page: https://www.obolodisanpietro.va/en.html.
The largest portion of donations (65%) came from dioceses and another 10% from foundations, as well as smaller sums received from private donors and religious institutes.
From a geographical point of view, the largest donor nations included the United States (29.3%), followed by Italy (11.3%), Germany (5.2%), Korea (3.2%), and France (2.7%). Collection by country covered 75% of the total, and the remainder was donated to the Holy See by foundations and religious institutes.
Distribution of the funds
The areas to which Peter's Pence distributes funds concern the service carried out by the Roman Curia, as well as the numerous charitable works that directly assist the most needy.
Of the 65.3 million Euro spent in 2021, 46.9 million were financed precisely by the offers received during the year, while the remaining 18.4 million were financed by the same patrimony of the Fund. In particular, 55.5 million Euro were contributed to the activities promoted by the Holy See in carrying out the Pope's Apostolic Mission.
Around 10 million Euro (9.8 million to be exact) concerned assistance projects.
Help for the most needy
The offerings of the faithful are intended to support the activities of the Holy Father for the whole Universal Church. These activities are carried out by the Holy See. The Pope, as Pastor of the universal Church, is concerned both with the needs of evangelization (spiritual, educational, justice, communication, political charity, diplomatic activity, etc.) and with the material needs of poor dioceses, religious institutes and faithful in serious difficulties (the poor, children, the elderly, the marginalized, victims of wars and natural disasters; special aid to Bishops or Dioceses in need, Catholic education, aid to refugees and migrants, etc.).
Peter's Pence donated 9.8 million Euro toward these charitable projects.
Every service provided by the Holy See and destined for the universal Church is possible, thanks to Peter’s Pence. In fact, it guarantees the activity of the Dicasteries that assist the Pope every day in the exercise of his ministry. In order to ensure the maximum efficiency of the Curia, and the proper destination of the aid received, a process of reorganization of the Dicasteries has been launched in recent years aimed at minimizing the costs of internal services in favor of charitable and missionary activities.
Peter's Pence offered grants to promote 157 projects in 67 countries, the most of which took place in Africa.
Help for the Pope's mission
The 55.5 million Euro allocated in 2021 to support the Pope's ministry financed 23% of the total expenditure of the departments dedicated to the Apostolic Mission in the same year, excluding administrative ones (equal to 237.7 million). These are the structures, renewed by the recent apostolic constitution Praedicate Evangelium, which collaborate with the Pope in his mission as the head of the universal Church and include the various forms in which evangelization is expressed (spiritual, educational, justice, communication, political charity, diplomatic activity, etc.)
A year ago, on the eve of the collection, Father Guerrero underlined in an interview with L'Osservatore Romano the importance of the contribution guaranteed by Peter's Pence, noting how it its "support structure" enables a more effective proclamation of the Gospel.