Vatican Owns Over 5,000 Properties Worldwide

An office handling the Vatican’s properties and investments revealed the Catholic body owns more than 5,000 church and investment properties around the world.

QUICK FACTS:
  • The Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA), which administers Vatican properties and investments, made a summary of its annual budget public for the first time on Saturday, according to the Catholic News Service.
  • APSA directly administers 4,051 properties in Italy and entrusts to outside companies the administration of some 1,200 properties in London, Paris, Geneva, and Lausanne, Switzerland, the Vatican report said.
  • The report released July 24 contained more than 50 pages of financial material including pie charts, graphs, and maps.
  • One luxury property has received multiple noise complaints, one involving a DJ.
Pope Francis talks with Nunzio Galantino, Bishop of Cassano allo Ionio, and general secretary of the Italian Episcopal Conference, as he leaves after visiting the inmates of the prison of Castrovillari, southern Italy, Saturday, June 21, 2014. Pope Francis is paying a one day visit to Castrovillari and Cassano allo Jonio, in the Calabria region of Italy. (AP Photo/Adriana Sapone)
WHAT THE APSA PRESIDENT SAID:
  • President of the APSA Bishop Nunzio Galantino said in an interview with Vatican News that making the budget synthesis public was “a step forward in the direction of transparency and sharing.”
  • “The release of the balance sheet is a sign of great respect for all those who, with trust and generosity, have placed and continue to place part of their resources in the hands of the Catholic Church,” Bishop Galantino said.
  • “I harbor a secret hope: I hope that the publication and reading of the numbers and the important notes that accompany them will foster more correct and complete information,” he added.
SIDENOTE—“HELLISH” NOISE:
  • Noise complaints were recently lodged about a Vatican-owned, £30,000 per week luxury London flat at Hans Place in Chelsea, reports Financial Times.
  • The 9,000 sq ft property spans three floors, boasting an indoor swimming pool and a large garden, according to The Telegraph.
  • Complaints were made about the apartment from local residents over what they called “hellish noise” from late night gatherings.
  • Noise enforcement officers at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) have received four complaints this year about the property, relating to two parties, notes the Telegraph.
  • Police and council officers were forced to intervene.
  • The purchase of the luxury apartment in 2014 was overseen by Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who now faces corruption charges. Becciu is the first cardinal in modern times to be charged with financial crimes by the Vatican.
BACKGROUND:
  • The APSA, a sort of general accounting office, manages real estate and investments, pays salaries, and acts as a purchasing office and human resources department, according to Reuters.
  • 14% of its Italian properties were rented at market rates. Others were rented at cut rates to Church employees. About 40% were institutional buildings such as schools, convents and hospitals, also notes Reuters.
  • Struggling with its budget, the Vatican reported the Roman Curia had a $78 million (66.3 million Euros) deficit in 2020.
  • The Vatican cited the coronavirus pandemic as having a negative impact on the Vatican’s financial situation.
  • Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, told Vatican News, “We come from a culture of secrecy, but we have learned that in economic matters transparency protects us more than secrecy.”