Vatican’s Financial Mess Illustrates Ambivalence of Being a ‘Poor Church’

Before “Who am I to judge?” and before the “throwaway culture,” as well as before his celebrated catalog of the 15 “spiritual diseases” of the Roman Curia, Pope Francis just three days after his election gave us the soundbite which, in many ways, would define his papacy.

“How I would like,” the new pope said, “a poor Church for the poor.”

Under the heading of “be careful what you wish for,” Pope Francis may now be perilously close to getting what he wanted, at least as far as the Vatican is concerned, not as a result of internal reform, but rather long-standing financial weaknesses combined with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its economic repercussions.

A recent internal analysis prepared for Pope Francis and the heads of Vatican departments suggests the Vatican’s deficit could balloon by as much as 175 percent in 2020, reaching $158 million, which is basically as much as the Vatican is projected to bring in this year, meaning it will be spending about twice as much as it collects.

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