The Vatican

The 2023 St. Peter's Oblong, between generosity and financial challenges

Data from the St. Peter's Obligation for 2023 show that the Vatican's charitable works continue to be a priority, despite the existing difficulties in meeting the expenses required for this aid.

Giovanni Tridente-July 5, 2024-Reading time: 3 minutes
The Vatican

Vatican façade showing the window from which the Pope greets pilgrims (CNS photo / Vatican Media)

The Annual Report 2023 of the St. Peter's Obolus published in recent days delves as always into the financial and charitable activities of the Holy See, but reveals how the past year was marked by some economic challenges, while continuing to record the generous solidarity of the faithful around the world.

Overall, the document certifies income of 52 million euros, of which 48.4 million euros came from direct donations and 3.6 million euros from financial income. However, expenses far exceeded income, reaching 109.4 million euros. This resulted in a deficit of 57.4 million, forcing the fund to withdraw 51 million from its assets to meet its charitable commitments.

Donations to the Obole reflect the universal character of the Catholic Church. Dioceses remain the main source of contributions (64.4 %), followed by foundations (28.8 %). The United States tops the ranking of donor countries with 13.6 million euros, followed by Italy (3.1 million) and Brazil (1.9 million). Also significant are the contributions from GermanyThe presence of the Church's mission in the countries of South Korea and France demonstrates a truly global commitment to the Church's mission.

Charitable projects

Despite financial difficulties, the Óbolo has maintained its commitment to supporting charitable works. In 2023, €13 million went to 236 projects in 76 countries. Africa was the main beneficiary, receiving 41.6 % of the funds for direct aid projects, followed by Asia (21.4 %) and Europe (18.5 %).

Specifically, the projects focused on three main areas: extension of the evangelizing presence (43 % of the funds), with the construction of new churches and pastoral structures in countries such as Guatemala, Tanzania and Albania; social projects (33 %), including initiatives such as support for the "Open Hospitals" project in Syria and assistance programs for pregnant women in Mexico; and, finally, support for local Churches in difficulty (24 %), with the financing of activities such as the renovation of seminaries and religious houses in countries such as Congo, Angola and Sri Lanka.

Supporting the apostolic mission

A significant figure refers to the support of the Holy Father's apostolic mission: 90 million euros, that is, 24 % of the total expenses of the Vatican Dicasteries and entities (370.4 million), were covered by the Obligation.

These funds have contributed to several areas considered crucial: 35 million for the support of local Churches in difficulty; 12 million for worship and evangelization; 11 million for the diffusion of the message; 9 million for apostolic nunciatures and 8 million for the service of charity.

Humanitarian impact and future challenges

Through the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, Pope Francis has donated a total of about 45 million euros for charitable works in 2023. However, this ongoing commitment to the most needy comes up against an increasingly complex financial reality. The deficit recorded also in 2023 raises doubts about the long-term sustainability of the current funding model.

In fact, the need to draw on assets to cover current expenses may force the Holy See to review its fundraising strategies and the way it distributes resources.

Transparency and trust

This does not detract from the fact that the detailed publication of this data confirms the desire for transparency, allowing believers and benefactors to know how resources are used. It is also a way of maintaining and reinforcing the trust of the donors themselves. With the understanding that as the Church continues to respond to growing humanitarian needs around the world, it will be crucial to balance generosity with prudent financial management to ensure the continuity of the evangelizing mission over the long term.

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