VATICAN CITY — The Vatican closed out 2020 with a deficit of $78 million, which was better than projected and even lower than pre-pandemic 2019, according to figures released Saturday.
The Vatican’s economy minister, the Rev. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, credited lower spending and a milder-than-expected drop in revenues for the results.
The shortfall was narrower than the range forecast by the Vatican, which was between $80 million and $172 millio. It was also lower than the $93.2-million deficit recorded in 2019.
Guerrero said the Vatican cut expenses in the face of the pandemic, focusing on essentials like salaries, aid to churches in difficulty and the poor. To save money, the Vatican reduced travel and events spending by three-quarters, postponed maintenance and cut back on consultancy services, while Vatican diplomats tightened their belts. Taxes remained a constant $22.1 million.
Revenues came in just 5% lower than the pre-pandemic projection of $316.5 million.
“We are waiting to see if this trend continues in 2021,’’ Guerrero told Vatican media.
Donations rose slightly to $66 million. Even so, Guerrero noted that the Peter’s Pence donations, offered during an annual collections at Mass, fell 18% in 2020. They are billed as a concrete way to help the pope in his works of charity but are also used to run the Holy See bureaucracy. Many churches conducted virtual Masses in 2020 due to the pandemic.
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