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Pope Francis’ Personal Income: €428 Million in 2013

The Peter’s Pence collection totaled €378 million in 2013. (1 euro = 1.10 dollar) Peter’s Pence is an annual collection from Catholics worldwide asked to donate to the pope’s charitable works.

The Vatican Bank’s annual profits are also “offered the Holy Father in support of his apostolic and charitable ministry.” This was €50 million in 2013.

While popes have used the bank’s profits to support the Vatican’s administration as they see fit, the Peter’s Pence donations are intended to be given entirely to charity.

Pope Francis makes only 20 percent  of the Peter’s Pence collection available for the poor as disclosed by Gianluigi Nuzzi, in his book Merchants in the Temple, released in November 2015. This was confirmed by Pope Francis’ chief of staff, Archbishop Becciu, last month.  The archbishop said if even 60 per cent of Peter’s Pence was given to charity “we would have to immediately fire 400 people” out of the current 4,000 Vatican employees.

“It is important to point out that the Vatican is not broke. Apart from the pension fund, which needs to be strengthened for the demands on it in 15 or 20 years, the Holy See is paying its way, while possessing substantial assets and investments,” Pope Francis’ financial czar, Cardinal George Pell, wrote in December 2014. “In fact, we have discovered that the situation is much healthier than it seemed, because some hundreds of millions of euros were tucked away in particular sectional accounts and did not appear on the balance sheet,” he continued.

An April 2015 article in Italy’s financial newspaper, Il Sole 24 Ore, stated the Vatican’s assets – securities, investments, real estate, bank accounts – for all its departments combined would be around €15-17 billion “by a conservative estimate”

“Do not forget the poor!” Pope Francis instructed the attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January.

Also last month, “In a desperate plea for justice, Pope Francis reminds us that migrants are our brothers and sisters in search of a better life, one in which poverty, hunger and the unjust distribution of the planet’s resources is overcome.” Yet for all his wealth, Pope Francis accepted only two migrant families to be supported by the Vatican and live in nearby Church-owned apartments.

Pope Francis has never disclosed how much or what he does with his fortune. 

The Vatican Bank is forced by international financial regulators to publish annual reports in order to continue doing business globally. Disclosure of the Peter’s Pence collection ended in Pope Francis’ pontificate.  The above figure of €378 million comes from Emilio Fittipaldi’s book, Avarizia (“Avarice – the deadly sin grew as a parasite in the fiber of the Church.”) published the same day as Nuzzi’s book.

The pope is also given personal gifts, mostly undisclosed. Francis auctions many these items for charity, but there’s no accounting of how much is raised in total and how much of that money is given away. In 2012, a check made payable to Pope Benedict XVI for €100,000 was found in his butler’s apartment along with documents taken from the papal offices, so it’s reasonable to think that his more popular successor is similarly gifted with cash and checks.

Pope Francis does give some of his €428 million plus to charity. He boasted in an interview that he “wired US $54,000 to Congo to build three schools.”  (In 2010, Pope Benedict gave $300,000 of his own money to Catholic charities in Haiti following the earthquake. He didn’t mention it to the press.)

Office of Papal Charities (Almoner)

The oldest formalized papal charity is the Almoner’s Office established in 1409 to help the poor in Rome.  The Office of Papal Charities, it’s official name, is financed “through offerings collected from the distribution of apostolic blessing parchments and the generous contributions of individuals,” in addition to whatever the pope wants to contribute.

In his “high-profile moves” to help the poor, such as showers for the homeless with a barber shop adjacent to St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis accepts credit for the charity of others.

Barbers and students from a hairdressing school volunteer their services and sisters in religious orders “welcome the poor.” A change of underwear and personal hygiene articles are “offered free of charge by various firms and private individuals.” The almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, purchases other supplies “using money raised from the selling of parchments with a papal blessing.” Krajewski said “that 300 umbrellas  left by tourists in the Vatican Museums had been distributed to the homeless. He sent his ‘heartfelt thanks to all parishes that are contributing to this project and especially those who contributed to the building of the shower block beneath the colonnade.’”

Krajewski gave tickets to “the poor, the homeless, the refugees and the especially needy” to the preview of a film about the Pope Francis’ life. The needy were also offered a brown-bag dinner “donated especially for the occasion by several benefactors.” “It’s the pope’s caress,” Krajewski said.

Sometimes the homeless are asked to “volunteer” to obtain food from this pontiff. About a hundred homeless people joined other volunteers in handing out a free guide in St. Peter’s Square on how to go to confession. “Sandwiches were offered after the copies had been distributed.”

Headline: “Pope Francis Pays Surprise Visit To Homeless Shelter In Rome.” Waiting to greet him and share the “surprise” was “Krajewski; Msgr. Diego Ravelli, also of the Office of Papal Charities; Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, General of the Jesuits; and Fr. Joachin Barrero, Superior of the Community of the General Curia.”

In contrast, “Pope Benedict XVI’s 45-minute visit to the Vatican’s shelter for the poor and homeless was distinctly simple and low-key … This was not a media event … The visit highlighted one of Pope Benedict’s favorite themes: personal charity as the ultimate expression of faith in Jesus Christ … The 74-bed hostel was opened 20 years ago by Pope John Paul II … The almoner “said Pope Benedict told him to ‘never let our charity be lacking’ and to come to him personally if he needed additional funds. [E]ach year more than $2 million is distributed.”

Only the Catholic press reported Benedict’s charity, for example, when he hosted “more than 350 poor people at a post-Christmas luncheon at the Vatican. The pope passed among the guests in the crowded atrium of the Vatican audience hall Dec. 26, then sat down at a table with 14 others for a three-course meal that featured lasagna, roast veal with potatoes and the classic Italian “pandoro” Christmas cake – this one with melted chocolate and Chantilly cream.”

Following the lead of Pope Francis, other Vatican charities also withhold funds from the poor. Fittipaldi revealed there are several accounts in the Vatican Bank designated for charity that give nothing or very little.

In 2013 and 2014, the fund available to the Vatican Bank’s Commission of Cardinals – led by Cardinal Santos Abril y Castelló, appointed by Pope Francis and “a close friend” – gave nothing to charity despite a “net surplus of €425,000.”

Nuzzi and Fittipaldi indicted

Nuzzi and Fittipaldi were indicted Nov. 21, 2015, by the Vatican for disclosing confidential information in their books. Nothing has been denied. On Dec. 7, the Vatican judiciary agreed to allow witnesses called by the defense to testify including Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello and papal almoner, Archbishop  Krajewski. “The decision raises the prospect of the Church’s dirty linen being laundered in public.”

Four days later, the Vatican announced the trial was put on hold for two months. Don’t be surprised if the trial is never resumed or charges are dropped against Nuzzi and Fittipaldi or the trial continues without the testimony of Abril y Castello and Krajewski.

The only other Vatican trial scheduled to take place during Pope Francis’ reign never happened. Archbishop Josef Wesolowski was accused of soliciting sex for money from Santo Domingo’s poorest boys and possession of child pornography. Had the trial taken place, testimony would have confirmed that the pope allowed Wesolowski to remain a free man for 14 months before he was arrested by the Vatican. During that time, Wesolowski acquired more than 100,000 computer files of pornography with disturbing photos of children who were likely victims of human trafficking – an issue on which Pope Francis wants to be seen as a world leader.

Wesolowski died before the trial began. His Vatican autopsy confirming the cause of death as a heart attack was coordinated by the same man who had declared the shooting death of a Swiss Guard to be a suicide. A second autopsy conducted at the request of the victim’s mother at the University of Lausanne’s Institute of Forensic Pathology said this was impossible.

(Betty Clermont is author of The NeoCatholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America)

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  1. […] Pope Francis’ Personal Income: €428 Million in 2013 […]

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