File photo of the facade of St. Peter's Basilica File photo of the facade of St. Peter's Basilica 

Bishop Galantino: ‘Vatican not at risk of default’

The President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See denies allegations, published in a new book, that the Holy See is on the brink of financial collapse.

By Vatican News

"There is no threat of collapse or default here. There is only the need for a spending review. And that is what we're doing. I can prove it to you with numbers.”

Bishop Nunzio Galantino, President of the Vatican APSA, made that comment in an interview published on Tuesday in the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire.

Balancing the budget

After explaining where the assets managed by APSA derive from – a portion of which are the result of the Financial Convention annexed to the Lateran Pact of 1929 – Bishop Galantino said "the current situation of the administration of the Holy See is no different from what happens in any family or even in the nations of the different continents. At a certain point one looks at what one spends, considers the revenue that comes in, and tries to adjust expenses accordingly".

With regard to the APSA budget, Bishop Galantino denied that the negative result of the budget is the consequence of "a management based on clientelism and without rules, of ghost accounting and of the constant sabotage of the Pope’s assets", as has been alleged.

"In fact,” he explained, “the ordinary management of the APSA in 2018 closed with a profit of over 22 million euros. The financial loss on the books is exclusively due to an extraordinary intervention aimed at saving the operation of a Catholic hospital and the jobs of its employees.”

No encrypted accounts

Bishop Galantino also denied that APSA has encrypted accounts or parallel accounting systems. "I confirm and repeat: APSA has no secret or encrypted accounts. Anyone is welcome to prove the contrary. At APSA, there are also no accounts of physical or juridical persons, except for the dicasteries of the Holy See, related institutions, and the Governorate. A State that has no taxes or public debt has only two ways to live. Either it invests its own resources to produce an income, or it relies on the contributions of the faithful, even those made to Peter’s Pence. It is the case here that many want the Church to have nothing and then, in any case, to provide fair pay for its workers, as well as to respond to the many needs, first of all those of the poor. It's obvious that it can't be like that. There is a need for a spending review, to contain personnel costs and the purchase of materials. And this is being undertaken with great care and attention. So there is no need for alarmism about the hypothetical default. Rather, we are talking about an entity that is realizing it needs to contain expenses. This happens in any good family or in any serious State".

Properties under APSA management

The President of APSA also provided information regarding the properties managed by his department: "These include 2,400 apartments, mostly in Rome and Castel Gandolfo. There are another 600 shops and offices. Those not producing revenue are either service apartments or the offices of the Curia. As for their market value, it is impossible to make an estimate. Let's take the buildings in Pio XII Square: how much are they worth in practice? If you turn one into a super luxury hotel, it's one thing, but if they serve as offices for the Roman Curia, as they do now, they are worth nothing. In addition, about 60 percent of the apartments are rented to employees in need, who pay a reduced rent. This is a form of social housing. If large private companies do this, they are meritorious institutions that take care of their staff. If the Vatican does the same, we are incompetent, or worse, because we don't know how to manage our assets".

Curia carries out Pope’s wishes

"To set the Pope against the Curia,” Bishop Galantino concluded, “is a worn-out journalistic cliché. We are all working to balance income and expenditure. So we try to do exactly what the Pope wants. Other readings of the issue sound a lot like the Da Vinci Code, which represents an absolutely fictional approach to reality".

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22 October 2019, 11:25