Tuesday, July 08, 2014
There was a ton of financial news today and more to come tomorrow, as you will note in the announcement of a press conference on "New Economic Framework of the Holy See." Your eyes might glaze over if you are not a CPA or other numbers cruncher but at least you have the information at hand.

For a change, you might enjoy my Tale of Three Churches, which is retold with photos on my Facebook page (and supplemental video on Youtube).

And, if you are a soccer fan (even a brand new one!), you might be spending part of your afternoon in front of the TV to see whether Brazil or Germany wins tonights World Cup semifinal match and goes to the finals on July 13.


Pope Francis sent a Message yesterday to mark the first anniversary of his July 7, 2013 pastoral visit to the island of Lampedusa, a major crossroads and arrival point for migrants from North Africa who seek to enter Europe.. Too often the overcrowded ships traveling from Africa capsize and hundreds of migrants have died over the years in their attempts to reach freedom. In his Message to Archbishop Francesco Montenegro of the archdiocese of Agrigento, which includes Lampedusa, Pope Francis writes, I encourage the Christian communities and all people of good will to continue to reach out and lend a helping hand to all those who are in need, without counting the cost, without fear, with tenderness and understanding. He went on to say, At the same time, I hope that the competent institutions, especially at the European level, might be most courageous and generous in refugee relief.


IOR, the Institute for Works of Religion, comonly known as the Vatican bank, today issued a statement noting that it posted net profits of 2.9 million euros in 2013, down from 86.6 million euros the previous fiscal year. The statement said the 83.7-million-euro drop was due to "extraordinary expenses, adjustments to the value of investment funds managed by third parties, and a drop in the price of gold."

However, notes the statement, in the first semester of 2014 preliminary data showed net profits of 57.4 million euros (against 2.9 million euros in 2013). Also in 2013, IOR contributed 54 million euros to the budget of the Holy See, down from 54.7 million in 2012.

That statement can be read on the IOR website:

A press conference will be held at noon tomorrow in the Holy See Press Office to talk about "New Economic Framework of the Holy See." Participants will include Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy; Joseph F.X. Zahra, deputy coordinator of the Council for the Economy; Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, member of the Council for the Economy and Ernst von Freyberg, president of the Supervisory Council of the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR).

It is expected that tomorrow it will be announced that Franssu will succeed von Freyberg as the new head of the Vatican Bank. Also expected tomorrow is the announcement that IOR will lose its asset management functions to a newly created department and that IOR will henceforth only provide payment services for religious orders, charities and Vatican employees and retirees. In the past, embassies to the Holy See could also avail themselves of IOR services but the future of that relationship is unknown at the moment.


Following is the English-language communiqu released today by the Holy See Press Office on Financial Statements relative to the Holy See and to the Governorate of Vatican City State:

During the meeting of the Council of the Economy on Saturday July 5, the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See, as is customary at this time of year, presented a report of the two main budgets for 2013: the consolidated financial statement of the Holy See and the financial statement of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

The data included in these statements may be summarized as follows:

The 2013 consolidated financial statement for the Holy See closes with a deficit of 24,470,549, due principally to negative fluctuations deriving from the valuation of gold, to the value of around 14 million. Although they are evaluative, not actualized, elements according to the accounting principles based on the criterion of prudence contained in the Regulations for the Preparation of the Financial Statements of the Holy See, they were recorded among the negative components in the overview of financial management.

The most significant categories of expenditure at those regarding personnel costs (2,886 persons on 31 December 2013), a net sum of around 125 million, and the payment of taxes that affect the real estate sector, approximately 15 million.

The administration of the Governorate is autonomous and independent of contributions from the Holy See. Through its various offices, it supervises requirements related to the administration of the State. The 2013 budget closed with a profit of 33,040,583, an increase of around 10 million compared to last year. As of 31 December 2013 the Governorate employed a total of 1,936 persons.

Contributions made pursuant to Canon 1271 of the Code of Canon Law i.e. the economic support offered by ecclesiastical circumscriptions throughout the world to maintain the service the Roman Curia offers to the Universal Church went from 22,347,426 in 2012 to 22,435,359, thus remaining substantially stable.

The Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), as it does each year, offered the Holy Father a significant sum in support of his apostolic and charitable ministry. For 2013 this was a sum of 50,000,000.

Considering the overall combined results of the two Financial Statements, as is usual, 2013 closes with a profit of around 10 million.

The Council for the Economy, after hearing the Report, made the following declaration:

The Council has been informed by the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the budgets relating to 2013, and has taken note of the declaration by the External Auditor, according to whom in all the most important aspects, the financial position of Vatican City State as of 31 December 2013 and the results of transactions relating to the year 2013 comply with the current accounting principles of the regulations of Vatican City State. On this basis, the Council has approved the 2013 Budget and invites the Secretariat for the Economy to work towards further alignment of Vatican accounting principles with international standards.

Note on the IOR contribution: Since the Annual Report of the IOR published this morning makes reference to a contribution of 54 million, it is to be noted that, like last year, 50 million were destined for the Holy See budget, and the other 4 million for other works (in 2012 these included, for example, donations to the Fund for the support of cloistered monasteries, the Amazon Fund, the Fund to support the Churches of the former Soviet Union).


Since July 4, 2013 the church of Santa Susanna - which has served the American and English-speaking community in Rome since 1922 with the Paulist Fathers - has been closed for what the Cistercian nuns there call "repairs on the ceiling." Some day I hope to tell the entire story.

In any case, our three weekend Masses are temporarily being celebrated at two different churches and the Santa Susanna faith community is extremely grateful to their pastors. Saturday night Mass at 5:45 is in the Carthusian Chapel of the immense and immensely beautiful basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli and Martiri on Pza. Repubblica (aka Pza. Esedra). Sunday morning Mass is at 9 am at the basilicas main altar.

A second Sunday morning Mass for parishioners of Santa Susanna is celebrated at 10 am at the church of San Camillo de Lellis on Via Sallustriana, just blocks from the U.S. Embassy on Via Veneto. Both churches are within brief walking distance from Santa Susanna. Monday, July 14, the Universal Church and this Rome parish in particular - will mark the 400th anniversary of the death of this Italian priest and saint who founded the Order of Clerks Regular, Ministers to the Sick (M.I.), better known as the Camillians, who are dedicated to the care of the sick. His spiritual director and confessor was a contemporary, St. Philip Neri.

How to reach the Carthusian Chapel in the basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli: When you enter the basilica, walk towards the main altar. On your left, you will see a door with the word Sacrestia on the lintel. That door leads to the St. Therese Chapel and exhibit hall. Another door leads you out of this chapel to a very interesting, small and historic courtyard with a giant statue of Galileo Galilei and smaller statues of the Holy Family. A short hallway on the left of the courtyard leads to the sacristy area where there are signs indicating Mass in English. This very lovely chapel is behind the sacristy. Photos here show the St. Therese Chapel and adjacent courtyard.

I posted two videos on my Youtube page ( View Joan's videos on Youtube
) over the weekend that will give you some idea of the inside of the basilica. I also posted photos of the St. Therese Chapel and adjacent courtyard on my Facebook page ( Follow Joan on Facebook
). Someday I will return to the basilica to do a major story - perhaps a Joans Rome video - on its fascinating history (for example, this massive church was built inside the ruins of the frigidarium of the Roman Baths of Diocletian).

Santa Maria degli Angeli is the titular church of U.S. Cardinal William Keeler.

Michelangelo worked from 1563 to 1564 to adapt part of the gigantic baths of Diocletian into a church, using the frigidarium (Roman baths had a frigidarium (cold water) tepidarium (you guessed it, warm water) and caldarium (hot water). These public baths were built on the Viminal Hill the smallest of Romes seven hills and were to serve the people living in the Viminal areas as well as the Quirinal and Esquiline neighborhoods (two more of Romes seven hills).

When we say the Baths of Diocletian were massive, we are talking about 120,000 square meters or 1,291,669 square feet!

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