Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Vatican Finances and Ratzinger as Frontrunner

The Holy See is seeing red

In a rare disclosure last year, a Vatican accountant said the Holy See’s real estate is worth 700 million euros, or about $908 million. That does not include St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, which the report termed priceless and valued at a symbolic 1 euro.

The Vatican went through 23 years of spending more money than it took in, until 1993, when the situation improved dramatically after a revised code of church law made clear that Roman Catholic dioceses around the world should assist the Holy See.

But its most recent financial statement — in July — reported a deficit for the third consecutive year. It listed 2003 revenues of $250.2 million and expenditures of $262 million, for a deficit of $11.8 million.

The statement on running the Holy See is not a conventional balance sheet, and it does not include revenues from museums, stamps and other items, which are covered by another report focusing on the Vatican city-state.


American Catholic donations are said to have been in 70-80 million dollar range. That is leverage if you ask me. This story changes the landscape of my papabile brackets. Clearly, a manager and administrator with a good fund raising sense is needed. That means a safe, create of the Vatican, is a likely candidate. In light of that, I saw this story:

Reports: German cardinal gains support

Ratzinger may get 40-50 votes, Italian newspapers say

The Associated Press
Updated: 11:36 a.m. ET April 13, 2005


ROME - Support for German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger appears to be building ahead of the conclave to select a new pope, Italian newspapers reported Wednesday.

Corriere della Sera, citing anonymous sources, said at least 40 cardinals have voiced some backing for the conservative Ratzinger during daily meetings before the conclave opens Monday with an expected 115 cardinals.

Another newspaper, La Repubblica, put the number of possible Ratzinger backers at 50, without identifying a source for the estimate.

The reports could not be independently verified. The cardinals have agreed not to talk to the media until after the conclave, the Vatican said. The pre-conclave meetings are held in private.

Shy of majority
But the tally of votes suggested for Ratzinger would still be shy the number needed to be elected pope at the conclave: a two-thirds majority, or 77 votes.

Ratzinger, who leads a powerful Vatican office that oversees and enforces church doctrine, has been mentioned as a possible contender because of his close ties to Pope John Paul II. But Ratzinger will turn 78 on Saturday, which has led to speculation he could face challenges from cardinals who want a younger pontiff.

The newspapers also reported that the blocs opposed to Ratzinger have not united around a single name — suggesting a series of ballots may be needed before the leading contenders emerge. In October 1978, the College of Cardinals voted eight times over three days before selecting the first non-Italian pope in 455 years.


Oh boy! Ratzinger does not appear to be a good choice. He is a prudent choice, though. He is older, a vatican creature, will manage things well, but it is not a . . . how shall we say this, he is not a warm welcoming face for the Church. Of course, that's a concern for liberals and the secular world, the conservatives would be overjoyed.

I'll have my final papabile brackets tomorrow. My front runner is a surprise and would blow you away.

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