As thx1138 mentioned, this is a very difficult question to answer. The
finances of the Vatican are very complex, come from different sources,
and are dedicated to different missions, in different countries. And
indeed, its transnational structure makes it even difficult to assess
the Vatican's finances.
But not a man as Prof. Thomas J. Reese, an American Vatican expert
from Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, would shun
from the task. In his book, "Inside the Vatican" (Harvard University
Press, 1996 <www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0674932609ltc-political>
- highly recommended if you're interested in Church history and
politics), he examines the finances of the Vatican (For the Chapter on
Vatican finances see pp. 202-229).
The first thing you may want to know is that the Holy See ran a
deficit from 1970 until 1993. Reese examines first the IOR (Instituto
per le Opere di Religione), known better as "the Vatican Bank". The
IOR was founded in 1887 to help the Pope manage his finances after the
fall of the Papal States. In 1994, for the first time in its history,
the bank was audited by an outside element - Price Waterhouse (today
PriceWaterhouseCoopers - http://www.pwcglobal.com/). In that year, the
bank had deposits of $40 billion, and annual profits of $4 million.
Reese notes, after an interview with the head of the bank, that "it is
unclear how much working capital the bank has beyond its deposits",
and that some estimated it as high as $1 billion, before 1984 payments
to creditors of a collapsing Italian Bank (a scandal known as "Banco
Amrosiano" Scandal). The budget of the Vatican City itself is $130
In 1994, the audit listed:
- 1,483 billion lire in assets [About $848 million]: -
- 732 billion lire [about $419 million] in liabilities (in the
"Consolidated Financial Statements of the Holy See" (410 billion in
cash, 479 billion in stocks and bonds, 29 billion in gold, and 470
billion in fixed assets - investments and real-estate) . 269 billion
lire are in deposits and accounts of Vatican entities, 96 billion for
employees' severance indemnities and 262 billion at the value of
pensions to present employees;
- 750 billion are in net assets [$430 million].
These figures are without the bank and the Vatican City, each of them
was mentioned earlier, and Reese estimates that it would add up to
$500 million to $1 billion. However, deducting the Vatican City's
budget and the $270 million reported as "fixed assets", the sum is
lower than $1 billion, maybe even less than quarter billion dollars.
Although Reese's information is only an estimation, it is probably the
closer you'll get, with the complex structure of the Vatican and the
Church. You can find other estimations online, including from this
site <http://www.vaticanbankclaims.com>, which tries to assert
retributions from the Vatican bank on property looted by the Nazis.
they claim the bank has manages £2bn (British Pounds) of assets, and
that The Vatican had a balance of 2.5bn lira in 1998, then worth about
In an interview published in Money Week, Cardinal Edmund C. Szoka, the
Vatican's "finance minister", claims that The Vatican's assets are $5
billion. he adds that " Income to the Holy See from bishops' dioceses
has more than tripled from 1990 levels, to $22 million in 2000." he
also says, "That [$5 billion] doesn't include the Vatican City, which
has a separate financial statement. If property is used for Church
purposes and could never be sold, the value of it is considered 1
lire, or nearly zero." The City's assets are "The revenues in 2000
were $180 million. The net surplus was $22 million, but that
fluctuates greatly since we're responsible for the maintenance of all
buildings, and it's extremely costly. One year we have a profit of $1
million and the next year $10 million. We put the surplus in a
reserve, so we have it when the next work is needed" (Szoka refuses to
refer directly to the Vatican Bank's assets). <source:
Forum on Reese's book: www.georgetown.edu/centers/woodstock/
I also sought the Internet - I must say that I mainly found
religiously biased attacks on the Vatican and newspaper articles,
nothing "serious". However, my search links were:
vatican "estimated assets"
"liquid assets" "catholic church"
I think that answered your question - as much as such a question could
be answered. However, if you need any clarifications, please ask
before you rate the answer, and I'll be happy to provide some.