Vatican official denies Holy See is heading for financial 'collapse'

(Photo: Reuters)

A Vatican official has denied claims in a book published this week that the Holy See is headed for financial "collapse". 

Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi claims in Universal Judgment that the Vatican risks defaulting by 2023 because of a combination of falling donations in the wake of a damaging global sex abuse scandal. 

The book asserts that an emergency task force was established by the Vatican last year in an attempt to avert a financial crisis after losses rose to €43.9 million last year, up from €32 million the previous year.

At the same time, Nuzzi claims that donations have fallen by up to 40% in the last three years, from 100 million euros to 60 million, while the Holy See's property portfolio failed for the first time last year to make any profit. 

The Vatican's asset manager Bishop Nunzio Galantino denied that the Holy See was facing a financial meltdown, the Catholic News Agency reports. 

The bishop, who as head of the Administration for the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) manages Vatican real estate, said that 2018 closed with a profit of over 22 million euros. 

Any reported loss, he said, was due to "an extraordinary intervention aimed at saving the operation of a Catholic hospital and the jobs of its employees". 

"There is no threat of collapse or default here. There is only the need for a spending review. And that is what we're doing. I can prove it to you with numbers," he said.

He continued: "The current situation of the administration of the Holy See is no different from what happens in any family or even in the nations of the different continents.

"At a certain point one looks at what one spends, considers the revenue that comes in, and tries to adjust expenses accordingly."

He added: "There is no need for alarmism about the hypothetical default. Rather, we are talking about an entity that is realizing it needs to contain expenses. This happens in any good family or in any serious state."