The Vatican Deficit-Spends Too

In 2011, the Holy See saw a $19 million budget gap. Will the Pope of the poor fix it and other financial problems?

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Better Investing

There’s been some talk about how frugal and unassuming the new Pope is.

He used to bus to work and lived in a simple apartment. He chose the name Francis after St. Francis of Assisi, a man who took a vow of poverty. (So did the new Pope, at age 22.) He’s said he wants “a poor Church and a Church for the poor.”

So what does that mean for the Catholic Church’s spending? Will Pope Francis ramp it up until the church really is poor, or show more restraint than under Pope Benedict XVI?

According to Benzinga, the Catholic Church has assets worth billions, ranging from famous art and a stockpile of gold to more traditional investments like real estate and stocks…

Vatican investment fund managers favor an ultraconservative, low-risk investing strategy, but it is rumored to have billions in physical gold, along with a vast portfolio of property holdings all over the world, according to The Guardian. Excluding St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, the value of the holdings are reportedly worth nearly a billion dollars.

Then there’s the artwork, including works by Michelangelo and Raphael. The Vatican doesn’t try to apply a fair-market value to its art collection, but if sold, the works would likely fetch billions more.

Traditionally they’ve invested in Italian industries, but the article suggests Francis might diversify that with investments in the Americas. But he has his work cut out for him, because for the past two years Italian authorities have been investigating money laundering in the Vatican bank.

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