The Vatican

How to read the APSA 2022 budget

On August 10, 2023, the report of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) on the budget and finances of the Holy See was published.

Andrea Gagliarducci-September 4, 2023-Reading time: 5 minutes

Via della Conciliazione, Vatican ©OSV

There are two ways to read the balance sheet of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, which can be called the "Central Bank of the Vatican". The first is to look only at the numbers, counting the real estate, the investments and the contribution to the Curia. The second is to understand the significance of the APSA from its history, which is the story of how the finances of the Holy See came into being and why they exist.

But before reading the balance sheet, some preliminary considerations must be made. The APSA begins to act as the "sovereign fund" of the Holy See. Even the administrative activities that used to be carried out by the Secretariat of State have been transferred to the APSA. This is something to keep in mind when looking at the figures, although, it must be remembered, APSA had its own patrimonial autonomy.

Second preliminary note: the budget was published on August 10, almost out of the blue, directly in Vatican News. There were no official communications, no institutional interviews. Above all, there was no publication of the budget of the Holy See, what is known as the "mission budget," which usually comes out on the same days as the APSA budget. This seems to indicate that some things are about to change in the way budgets are prepared, and perhaps even again in the administration of the Holy See. We will have to keep our eyes open.


Some balance sheet figures: assets amounted to €52.2 million, up €31.4 million compared to 2021, while operating expenses increased by €3 million. Real estate assets, thanks in part to the sale of some vacant properties, grew by €32 million. On the other hand, movable assets (i.e. financial operations) are in the red by €6.7 million, with a loss of €26.55 million since last year, due, according to the balance sheet, to the decision to favor prudent, low-income and risk-free investments.

The surplus led APSA to contribute 32.7 million to the needs of the Roman Curia. APSA has always contributed to the Curia, using this system: the results of the three management segments are added together, giving a minimum guaranteed contribution of 20 million, and a 30% of positive surplus was added. An additional and extraordinary contribution of 8.5 million euros was also added to this budget.

APSA owns and manages several properties. In Italy there are 4,072, covering a commercial area of approximately 1.47 million square meters. Of these units, 2,734 are owned by APSA and 1,338 by other entities. Among APSA's units, 1,389 are for residential use, 375 are for commercial use, 717 are outbuildings and 253 are reduced return units. As for the type of rent obtained from them, 1,887 units are in the free market, 1,208 in subsidized rentals and 977 in zero rentals.

92% of the properties in Italy are in the province of Rome, 2% in the provinces of Viterbo, Rieti and Frosinone, 2% in Padua (the Basilica of the Saint), 2% in Assisi, and another 2% distributed in 25 other Italian provinces. It should be noted that management costs have risen from 10 million to 13 million, which probably also includes some consultancies.

One of APSA's major projects is called "Returnable Empty Homes". With this project, 79 homes in poor condition have been rehabilitated so far and will now be marketed. The same will happen with a second maxi lot of 61 real estate units.

Also under the direction of the APSA are 37 nunciatures in Europe, 34 in Asia, 51 in Africa, 5 in North America, 46 in South America and 3 in Oceania.

APSA's history and objectives

So much for the figures. But the most interesting are the historical data. The APSA was born as "La Speciale", and served to manage the patrimony that had been created with the compensations that the Holy See had had with the Conciliation. In 1967, Paul VI reorganized it, giving it the name of Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, APSA.

Particularly interesting is the question of real estate. "Since," reads the report, "as has been said, real estate in the vicinity of the Vatican represented - and still represents today - a blocked part of the patrimony of the Holy See, the objective of consolidating the patrimony was immediately entrusted to real estate investments in Italy and abroad."

It was "a natural choice", which went hand in hand with "prudence as the main criterion in financial operations", since "while, on the one hand, the brick allowed less exposure to exchange rate fluctuations, on the other hand, the geographical diversification of investments allowed reducing the risks associated with concentration in a single country".

The report traces the history of the creation of the APSA, its two "extraordinary" and "ordinary" sections, its reform, which led it to lose some of its powers to the Ministry of Economy, and its subsequent readjustment, and the fact that today the APSA is called upon to administer with the objective not of making a profit, but of "preserving and consolidating the patrimony received as dowry".

Investments outside Italy

The APSA 2022 balance sheet also underlines that APSA manages real estate outside Italy with subsidiaries at 100% of APSA, and that "the real estate owned by APSA in the United Kingdom is managed through a local company nominated at 100%", and that "the real estate owned in England is included for all purposes in the APSA balance sheet".

The funds in the UK are managed by a company founded in 1932, British Grolux Investment Limited, which has properties all concentrated in London, where it has also just finished renovating a building and is leasing it to international companies and a prestigious tenant.

In 2022, Grolux paid £4 million in leases in 2022, to which was added £2.6 million in lease renewal premiums, which also affected the property co-owned by the Pension Fund. Grolux thus had assets of €5.95 million.

In Switzerland, there were ten companies managing real estate. In 2019, everything was brought together in a single company, Profima S. A., which had already been founded in 1933, which also allowed for cost rationalization and even tax exemptions. The real estate in Switzerland is mainly in Geneva and Lausanne, and the rationalization brought an extraordinary dividend of CHF 25 million, while the exemption resulted in savings of CHF 8.25 million. Profima posted a net profit of 1.79 million, 51.7% more than before.

And then there are the properties in France, managed by Sopridex S. A., a company founded in 1932, which - despite the slight downturn - posted a net result of €11.36 million, up 32% over 2021.

This brings the total liquid funds to EUR 89.8 million paid to APSA in 2022.

Remarks by APSA's President

APSA President Galantino noted in a letter accompanying the budget that its publication is part of the "nature and tasks assigned by Pope Francis to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See." "The APSA," the bishop noted, "is also called to contribute to the Church's evangelizing mission. Reputation is also part of the mission, and for this reason - wrote Galantino - the transparency of the numbers, of the results achieved and of the procedures defined is one of the tools at our disposal to banish (at least in those who are free from preconceptions) unfounded suspicions about the extent of the Church's patrimony, its administration, or the fulfillment of the duties of justice, such as the payment of due taxes and other levies."

The report attached to the budget also refers to the three-year plan that Apsa has adopted to further refine working methods and improve results, and is expected to bring in some 55.4 million euros in total benefits.

The authorAndrea Gagliarducci

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