Pope Francis at the window overlooking St Peter's Square. Photograph:( Reuters )
Pope Francis seems to be taking matters in his own hands as he plans to bring in a committee of outside experts. They are expected to set new financial and ethical guidelines. The Vatican is also looking to tighten its belt as its coffers could be running dry
A scandal has led to a shake-up in the Vatican. The pope has taken a big decision of stripping the Vatican's most powerful office of its financial assets. This has come after dubious investments squandered millions of euros in church donations.
The scandal and the pandemic have now thrown up a bigger crisis for the pope — a budget deficit.
Pope Francis has cut off the purse strings of the secretariat of state — the executive arm of the holy see. All of its financial holdings and real estate assets are being transferred to another office after a rather embarrassing scandal.
More than a year ago, the Vatican had conducted an unprecedented raid. The target was the offices of the banking regulator. The trigger was the mismanagement of donations.
Reports say some of it was used to buy a costly property in London for more than 300 million euros ($366 million) — a price that was well over the market value. The bill was inflated by middlemen by well over 100 million euros, according to one report. A detailed scrutiny of accounts revealed several dubious investments. Reports say they happened without the supervision of the central economic institutions.
Now Pope Francis seems to be taking matters in his own hands as he plans to bring in a committee of outside experts. They are expected to set new financial and ethical guidelines. The Vatican is also looking to tighten its belt as its coffers could be running dry.
This year, the Vatican is staring a major budget deficit. For most years, it has ranged between 60 to 70 million euros. This year, it could rise up to 100 million euros.
The pandemic has hit the earnings of the church. Collections from the museums of Vatican city tend to deliver a profit of more than 40 million euros. However, this year, all museums remained closed for long periods because of the coronavirus and the Vatican lost millions in revenue.
Pope Francis faces his biggest test now, as he was elected on a mandate to reform the Vatican's finances. However, this task has proved to be a major challenge in the past seven years.
Thanks to the pushback from the Vatican bureaucrats, now the scandals have battered the reputation of the catholic church and the budget deficit are causing more embarrassment.
Last year's budget deficit was plugged using donations meant for the poor, with the deficit now expected to touch 100 million euros. The Pope surey faces challenging times ahead.