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The Wholly Rotten Criminal Church - 04

Oceans of money, mountains of gold

and other trinkets of the Catholic Church


"Go, I am sending you out like wolves among sheep, Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road." - Luke 10: 3-4

"He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” – Luke 22:36


If you think calculating the total asset value of the largest Christian cult is difficult, then try compiling an overview of the financial assets of the Hypocrite Roman Criminal Conglomerate. Pope Francis may pretend to clean up this den of robbers and play nice for the press, but his proudly proclaimed pledge to transparency melts away when reporters ask the Vatican how much Porsche paid to rent the Sistine chapel for a corporate event. In spite of Porsche’s proud announcements of the extraordinary event, the Vatican kept denying that the chapel was even rented out to the German car builder. If the directors of the HRCC are so secretive about a publicly visible event like the above, then what can we expect when it comes to their financial assets? We know one thing: they are much, much more than what the Vatican would have us believe. How could they not?


"The Throne of Saint-Peter"... … Ah well, one more lie won't hurt.
















Pressured by the increasing scrutiny of the media and the general public, Pope Francis’ charm offensive is an effort to keep the HRCC in a positive light and plug the leaking revenue channels. But in spite of the publications about the finances of god’s country, much remains shrouded in secrecy. This certainly applies even more to the subsidiaries of the Holy See, the dioceses and monastic orders. Coming clean about the real estate portfolio under the direct management of the Administration of Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA) may seem like a step towards the light; but what about those 26 Italian companies managing the vast Italian real estate portfolio of the Church? You’d be lucky to even find out one of their names.


Because of the continuing secrecy, only so many pieces of this gigantic puzzle can be put together. Therefore I can only offer you some specific examples. You may think that I am an utter fantast if I put forward that the financial assets of the Roman Catholic Church do not run in the billions of dollars, but trillions. The examples below may yet lead you to lend some credence to this thought. The enormous wealth of the HRCC is a result of almost 2 millennia of cross pollination between tangible assets (lands, monasteries, churches…), financial assets and the proceeds thereof, allowing the Church to reinvest in the first two, increasing in turn the revenue stream. In defense of the use of Peter’s pence funds, Pope Francis himself said as much. As any long term investor knows: one of the determining factors of compounding interests, returns or profits is time. More than any company in the world, the HRCC has had the advantage of the latter.


In Luke 10 Jesus instructed his apostles to become asocial profiteers. But in his omniscience he knew that people would not welcome those impolite freeloaders very heartily, so a few verses later he advised them to purchase weapons and spread the good news by force if need be. On this one point the HRCC has always agreed with Jesus, and we’re not talking about arming yourself mentally. Investing in mercenary armies or military contractors doesn’t qualify as a metaphorical interpretation of Jesus’ instruction.


Chapter 1. Mons Vaticanus


Going back to 1871, when Pius IX kind of made Peter’s pence a mandatory custom, and tracking down how much the Holy See would have earned through this form of taxation is beyond anyone’s reach. We do know however that it is by this influx of money that the papacy started building its real estate empire and, a bit later on, stock portfolio. In a way, it allowed the Vatican to economically reconquer “its” lost Papal States. In fact, the Church now owns 17 times more land than it did up until the Italian unification.


Dozens of newspapers jumped on the release of the financial statements of the fiscal years 2019 and 2020. The disclosures follow the financial reforms and clean-up operations advocated by Pope Francis. While there is no particular reason to doubt the published statements by themselves, it seems that the media are blinded by the sudden beams of light shining out the Catholic windows opened by the pope. The numbers made available to the public may be correct, but are they complete? I wonder. A first grain of doubt is sown by the opening statement of the consolidated financial statements:


"The Vatican and the Roman Curia are not the same. We are presenting ONLY the balance of the Roman Curia."


My follow up questions are immediately: then where are the statements of the Vatican? And what is the Vatican in this context? Does this refer to the state of Vatican City? Based on the published statement it doesn’t appear so: the consolidation perimeter includes it in the 60 “audited” entities, of which only 5 are named. Does it refer to the Pope’s own discretionary funds? All we know for certain about the latter is that they exist.

According to the disclosures from the Curia, their total assets (current and fixed) are 2.53 billion USD and the net equity about 1.58 billion USD. That leaves billions and billions of dollars unaccounted for.


Pursuant to the Lateran Pacts, Vatican City received an annual interest of 5 % on the bearer bonds paid by the kingdom of Italy in 1929. Hence for 56 years, the church received an equivalent of 34,712,298.19 USD per year, or a total of 1,943,888,698.64 USD. Effective 1986, this system changed into the ‘otto per mille’: through this system charity was no longer a choice for the Italian people, but a mandatory tax to fund projects for the common good (like financing the Italian war efforts in Iraq).

Consulting the Italian’s senate financial disclosures among others, we were able to retrieve that the earthly kingdom of god received in Italian tax payers’ money:

  • 1,431,719,656.56 USD in 2012

  • 1,332,702,800.00 USD in 2015

  • 1,231,541,476.04 USD in 2016

  • 1,210,592,585.74 USD in 2017

  • 999,165,746.42 USD in 2018

  • 1,300,574,719.62 USD in 2019,

or a total of 7,506,296,984.38 USD (7.5 billion USD). So where did all that money go? Note that these are just the numbers for six out of 34 years! Based on the complaints of the church officials about the increasing explicit choice of Italians not to donate their tax to the HRCC, we know that in the years prior to the ones above, the annual taxes received by the HRCC would have been at least equal to, but probably higher than the last 5 years. Still, applying a more than fair average of 1 billion USD to the other 28 years (the average of the 6 above is 1.25) would raise the total taxes received to 42.50 billion. That kind of money simply doesn’t mysteriously disappear without a trace. Oh wait, since it is the Catholic Church we are talking about, it does exactly that. In any case, those funds do not appear on the statements of the Roman Curia.


Coming back to the Peter’s pence Vatican City has received since 1871, we can only guess what this money stream has compounded into. Some donations are however disclosed by various dioceses and it that way we get an idea of this form of Vatican’s money influx. Assuming the numbers known from the American (USA) dioceses are in fact about 28 % of all donations, then the Vatican received in

  • 2008: 316,321,428 USD

  • 2009: 338,812,746 USD

  • 2010: 275,411,893 USD

  • 2011: 277,427,760 USD

Compared to the numbers above, are we to believe that the total Peter’s pence collection worldwide would have suddenly dropped to 50 million USD, as many newspapers reported on the 2018 collection? Once again, all transparency aside, the 2019 collection was not included in the financial statements of the Roman Curia. Therefore, we either trust the Vatican’s economic chief Mr. Juan A. Guerrero’s on his word, or we don’t when he says the Peter’s pence collection only raked in a deplorable 78 million USD in 2019. It is a nice gift to receive by any standard, but still a humongous drop of 77.00 % compared to 10 years earlier.


Luckily the Hedonistic Racketeers of the Crime Corporation have a multitude of other financial vessels to tap into. We will probably never know how much the papacy charged for the above featured corporate event of Porsche at the Sistine chapel. If the participators’ fees are any indication it would have been at least 290,000 USD. But that’s just a drop compared to the rental income the Vatican enjoys from its real estate holdings around the world. Most figures in the media fall desperately short. In Rome, the Vatican owns thousands of apartments, run by 26 companies affiliated with the Holy See (a portfolio with approximate market value of 4.99 billion USD in Rome alone!). Since 2013, the Holy See-but-do-not-Tell enjoys a yearly rental income of 107,363,080 USD. That more than makes up for the alleged drop in Peter’s pence donations. So far for the real estate in Rome run separately from the Holy See. The real estate portfolio under direct management of APSA adds another 3.27 billion USD to the Vatican’s holdings. How much rent is generated by these properties is a mystery, but if we interpolate from the ‘Propaganda Fide’ figure, we are talking about another 70,356,166 USD per year. According to investigations of the Guardian, our calculations are still far from complete. In a rare moment of transparency, long before Pope Francis climbed the papal throne, the Vatican disclosed in 2001 that its total rental income of real estate was 129.02 billion USD. After expenses, the real estate portfolio of the Vatican generated a profit of 47.26 billion USD. If the Curia is to be believed however, thousands of apartments and hundreds of commercial buildings have magically disappeared since 2001.

In case you still want to shore up the HRCC’s dwindling finances, you could buy some gold earrings at Bulgari on London’s 169 New Bond Street. The high end jeweler pays its rent to the Catholic Church.


Would it still surprise you that the HRCC is one of the largest shareholders on the world’s foremost stock exchanges? What does this tell us about the Vatican? Absolutely nothing and it certainly won’t tell us either. In 1965 the Vatican already owned enough stocks to cause a market crash if it would dump their holdings. Italian bankers estimated the 1965 portfolio at 1.60 billion USD, now 13.36 billion USD. This portion represented 10.60 % of the total securities held by the HRCC: a total of 126.04 billion USD. If the Vatican would have consistently reinvested its dividends from these holdings, its total portfolio value would now be 48.47 trillion USD. It probably didn’t of course, at least not for the most part. Still, enjoying an average dividend income of 5.6 billion USD per year (tax free) is hardly a hardship. Not all of its investments would have been good ones either [People old enough may remember the bankruptcy of Banco Ambrosiano and the plethora of scandals around it].


It may seem like a trivial thing, but the entrance fees to the Vatican’s museums make up for a nice Sunday allowance. The Covid-19 pandemic all but dehydrated this income stream. Ironically, the year that the coronavirus started colonizing the world like a Christian religion was also a top year for the Vatican’s income of admission tickets to its museums: 137,384,680 USD in that year alone. Adding the years 2012 to 2019, this revenue stream amounted to 974,766,560 USD, just shy of a billion in 8 years. Undoubtedly some other renowned museums in the world would just love a piece of that. A tourist attraction that feared to lose all income because of Pope Francis’ humility was the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo. But in spite of the absence of a pope during tourist high season and the outbreak of the pandemic in its final months, 2019 still provided the Vatican with 4.41 million USD of pocket money. The combined ticket sales of the Vatican Museums and Castel Gandolfo in 2019 alone are almost 142 million USD, but in sharp contrast therewith, the Curia states that their entire self-generated revenue is 238.86 million USD. We may be but sheep, but even sheep don't eat bovine excrement.


Before we move on to some examples of money going to its vice-kingdoms of the Roman Theocratic Dictatorship, here's a summary of the Vatican's income of 2019:

Peter's pence (alleged)

78.00 million USD

Ticket sales

142.00 million USD

Rental income (APSA)

70.36 million USD

Rental income 'Propaganda Fide'

107.36 million USD

Taxation of foreign nationals

1,300.57 million USD

Interests and dividends on financial assets

5,200.00 million USD

Total revenue:

6.9 billion USD

Chapter 2. Montes Auri


Picking up the thread with more pocket change: in 2019 the Archdiocese of Florence sold entrance tickets to the “Duomo” for approximately 27 million USD (combining the Cupola, Baptistery, Campanile and Museum). A very concise financial statement of the diocese published in 2019 by the ‘Tuscany Observer’, doesn’t mention ticket sales at all…nor book sales, souvenir sales, post cards, magic potions or photos with magical powers…


Back in the day, one of the main complaints of the Catholic priest Martin Luther about his employer was the sale of sacraments at sometimes exorbitant prices. After 500 years of Protestantism and having lost millions of devoted cash cows, the Catholic Church still charges the poor for their tickets to heaven. In Italy, all dioceses combined received some 30,000,000 USD in baptism fees and 27,558,000 USD in wedding fees. Italy is of course not the only country where the church sells these tickets to heaven for cold hard cash.


The great shrine of the Holy Blood, Brugge, Flanders, containing a vial with a few drops of Jesus's blood. Created in 1614. Aside from its historical, artistic and religious immaterial value, the monetary worth of the 30 kg's of gold, silver and more than 100 gemstones is more than 3 million USD. The veneration of and trade in relics is still a huge source of income for parishes and dioceses.











The ecclesiastical province made up by the kingdom of Belgium is only a small and insignificant part of the Catholic Church, certainly if compared to Brazil or the USA. With not even half a million regular church goers it doesn’t really seem worthwhile discussing. But many drops fill a bucket, and we have some clear numbers from the 8 dioceses. Some of them are:

  • Baptism fees received 2019: 11,122,489.50 USD

  • Wedding fees received 2019: 1,937,589.50 USD

  • Funeral fees received 2019: 14,576,540.00 USD

  • First communion fees 2019: 10,368,170.00 USD

  • Confirmations 2019: 9,035,320.00 USD

  • Subtotal of sacrament sales: 47,040,109.00 USD

  • Though mostly irreligious, Belgians are forced to pay the priests’ salaries: 60,461,100.50 USD.

  • They are also taxed to pay for church maintenance: 146,050,000 USD in 2020.

  • Belgian monasteries rent out rooms for various purposes and occasions. Approximate rental income 2019: 18,636,878.00 USD. Financial statements of the breweries run by Belgian monasteries have not been found. We do know that in 2020, the small brewery of West-Vleteren sold 40,000 crates of beer for a total value of 2,070,000 USD in 2020.

Looking to their eastern neighbors, the dioceses of Germany, the numbers explode again. Like Belgians, the Germans are taxed to fund religious organizations. In 2020, the Catholic dioceses received 7.40 billion USD through the Kirchensteuer. Over the years 2004-2020, the German tax payer, regardless of their religious affiliation forcibly “donated” 115.63 billion USD to the Catholic Church.


According to Mr Carsten Frerk, political scientist and author of publications on the finances of the Church, the German dioceses own assets of more than 196 billion USD. As is acknowledged by the author, this is far from the complete picture. The dioceses of the Catholic Church control a number of German banks. The two oldest of those are Liga Bank eG. and Pax-Bank eG. Through these two banks the Catholic Church invested in tobacco companies and arms manufacturers. In 2009, the German bishops held 764,000 USD in BAE Systems shares, the world’s third largest arms producer. As of 2020, Liga Bank controls assets worth 7.28 billion USD, Pax Bank controls 3.76 billion USD. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the Catholic Church would be limited to the use of its own banks. It can choose any of the 1,478 active banks in Germany or any foreign bank for that matter. Even if we limit the financial assets of the German dioceses to the above stated 196 billion USD, this would have generated a nice interest and dividend income of 5.48 billion USD. In all probability it is substantially more.


Thanks to the now world famous bishop Bling-Bling (not to be confused with the German Bishop of Bling), we know that the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston owns oil and natural gas fields in Texas, which pads the diocese’s income with some 15.00 million USD in royalties per year [it isn’t the only diocese to own oil fields].This diocese basically covers the state of West-Virginia. In 2020 there were about 1.80 million West Virginians and about 20 % of them live in poverty (although the poverty rate among children and African Americans is higher, being 25.50 and 31.70 % respectively). The state’s former Bishop Bling-bling couldn’t care less about that of course. For more than 13 years the diocese funded the rapist’s extravagant lifestyle, which included renting private jets to and from his luxury hotel vacations in the Caribbean, Paris and London. Bishop Bling-Bling will also remain known for his exquisite taste in expensive spirits and jewelry. The expenditures on those necessary means of salivation, pardon, salvation of the poor are next to nothing compared to the 4.60 million USD spent on his personal residence. But hey, why not stick it to those papist paupers of your diocese? Mikey… just do it!


Following the outrage over the crimes of the Sun King of West-Virginia, the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston - not without some misplaced pride - published for the first time ever its financial statements (year 2019). For a diocese catering to a mere 78 thousand Catholics, the numbers are quite impressive. None the less, Bishop Brennan laments the deficits caused by the charities they support and if you read between the lines, tells the reader that if they want those charities to continue, one should not only continue to donate to the Diocese, but donate more. It is curious to note therefore, that in spite of the expenditures caused by the former bishop’s exploits, the wealth of the diocese wasn’t affected that much at all.

Total assets actually increased to 422,521,860 USD, financial investments to 291,602,591 USD. One form of income that did see a decline was the rental, interest and dividend income on investments: “only” 13.80 million USD. The net asset value by June 30, 2019 stood at 352,271,767 USD. Not bad at all for one of the poorest states of the USA. Of course, being poor in the USA is not the same as being poor in Nigeria or Ivory Coast. One of the losses reflected in the financial statements, is Bishop Brennan’s decision to sell the episcopal residence at a considerably lower price than would be expected from a mansion having undergone 4 million in renovations. Maybe Brennan’s reasoning was that it is better to cut an immediate loss and increase donations again because of good public image. He may very well turn out to be right. Some people just love to be fooled.


There are a lot more dioceses that have published their financial statements in the past decade. Yet if they do release their finances to the public, how are we to trust them to be correct or complete? As asked earlier on, should we trust the liar when he says he will stop lying? It is unlikely that the dioceses, or the Vatican will willingly report on the off-shore accounts they are using to evade taxes, the shell companies they set up to embezzle and launder money. They will not openly tell you how much hush money they pay out to their thousands of rape victims. Only a minority of the dioceses or other independent entities disclose their finances to the public and not all of those are independently audited. The public outrage over the continuing crimes and scandals may yet force more churches to come out of the closet but as long as none of them are legally required to do so (let alone held accountable in the most literal sense), they do not deserve the benefit of the doubt or presumption of acting in good faith…as faith is the reason why their finances are still shrouded in more than a few veils.


If only for my own sanity, I will conclude this part with a summary of financial statements of the few dioceses I have consulted so far. I stress that they are but a small part of the global number of dioceses: far insufficient to base any averages on that could be applied to simplify the assessment of the Catholic Church’s wealth. This summary comprises data of the 38 following entities:

  1. Diocese of Orange, California, USA

  2. Diocese of Syracuse, New York, USA

  3. Diocese of Sacramento, California, USA

  4. Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio, Central Administration Office Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio, Catholic Charities Secretariat Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio, Catholic Community Foundation Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio, Center for Pastoral Leadership Diocese of Cleveland Facilities Services Corporation Diocese of Cleveland Borromeo Seminary, Ohio Diocese of Cleveland St.-Mary Seminary, Ohio Diocese of Cleveland Catholic Charities Corporation Diocese of Cleveland Catholic Charities Housing Corporation

  5. Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

  6. Diocese of Peterborough, Ontario, Canada Diocese of Peterborough Pastoral Centre Diocese of Peterborough Priest Benefit Fund Diocese of Peterborough Seminarian Fund Diocese of Peterborough Guy Mills Court

  7. Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas, USA

  8. Diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

  9. Diocese of Tucson, Arizona, USA

  10. Archdiocese of Washington Central Pastoral Administration Archdiocese of Washington Catholic Youth Organisation Archdiocese of Washington Catholic Education Foundation Archdiocese of Washington Forward in Faith Incorporated Archdiocese of Washington Victory Youth Centers Incorporated

  11. Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts

  12. Diocese of Gaylord Pastoral Center, Gaylord, Michigan USA Diocese of Gaylord Deposit and Loan Program, Gaylord, Michigan, USA

  13. Diocese of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

  14. Diocese of Lacrosse Administrative Offices, Wisconsin, USA (*)

  15. Diocese of Marquette, Michigan, USA

  16. Diocese of Lansing, Michigan (*)

  17. Diocese of San Jose, California, USA (*)

  18. Diocese of Albany, New York, USA

  19. Diocese of Paterson-Clifton Chancery Offices, New Jersey, USA

  20. Diocese of Rochester Pastoral Center Operations, New York, USA

  21. Diocese of Christchurch Diocesan Trust, New Zealand

  22. Roman Catholic Diocese of Madison Incorporated, Wisconsin, USA

  23. Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

  24. Diocese of Metuchen, Piscataway, New Jersey, USA

  25. Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey, USA

  26. Diocese of Bathurst Catholic Development Fund, Bathurst, Australia

  27. Diocese of Ogdensburg, New York, USA

  28. Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, USA

  29. Diocese of St. Petersburg Pastoral Center and Affiliates, Florida, USA

  30. Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA

  31. Diocese of Venice, Florida

  32. Diocese of Des Moines Administrative Offices, Des Moines, Iowa, USA

  33. Archdiocese of Indianapolis Chancery and certain entities, Indiana, USA

  34. Archdiocese of San Francisco, California, USA

  35. Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, USA

  36. Archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts, USA Archbishop of Boston's Common Investment Fund Archbishop of Boston's Collective investment Partnership

  37. Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut, USA

  38. Charities of the R.C. Archdiocese of Dublin, Ireland Parishes of the Diocese of Dublin

Only a few of the accounts totals are presented here as an indication of the amounts of money that flow through the dioceses’ hands. Total assets and net assets should therefore not be read as the sum of the other entries. Evidently the financial statements consulted contain a lot more detailed information. The links to each of the respective statements are listed in the sources and references section.

Cash and cash equivalents:

904.10 million USD

Land, buildings and equipment:

3,267.22 million USD

Rental income, gains on investments:

101.80 million USD

Interests and dividends on fin. assets:

307.51 million USD

Insurance premiums (received):

170.93 million USD

Net assets:

5,537.63 million USD

Total assets:

12,492.23 million USD

Maybe it arouses your curiosity: how much money have these dioceses invested in financial assets (corporate and government bonds, company stocks…) to earn 307.51 million USD in interests and dividends?


To one extent or another we have briefly discussed the finances of some 60 dioceses. There are however 2,248 dioceses, 78 apostolic vicariates and dozens of apostolic exarchates, apostolic administrations, apostolic prefectures, military ordinariates, personal ordinariates, personal prelatures, territorial prelatures, territorial abbacies and missions sui juris that make up the Catholic Church. Even if there was anyone alive who would have the time to examine their finances, it is doubtful that person would find out the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Whether it comes to raping children (and/or adults), embezzling money, evading taxes or the occasional murder, many high ranking men of the cloth really believe they are above the law [this applies to all religions…and of course women as well]. In their view, they only have to answer to their imaginary friend, not to manmade laws that say raping, stealing and killing is a crime. It is this mind-set that explains the behavior of many feudal lords of the Catholic Church, and the secrecy they see as their prerogative. In the same way, they insist that we should accept that the truth is what they tell us it is.



David, aPHD, 18 December 2021


 

Notes, sources and references:


Note:

When possible (depending on historical data), financial amounts have been adjusted for inflation to 2021. A standard exchange rate is used between EUR and USD of 1.15 USD to the EUR. A tool that has proven very useful throughout this series of articles is the Historical Currency Convertor (test version) developed by prof. Rodney Edvinsson of Stockholm University, Sweden,

https://www.historicalstatistics.org/Currencyconverter.html


Main sources and references:

Direct links to the financial statements of the dioceses and archdioceses comprised in summary:

Images:


  • "Chair of St. Peter", also 'Throne of St. Peter', image retrieved from: Jimmy Akin, "9 things you need to know about the "Chair of St. Peter", 21 February 2013, National Catholic Register, https://www.ncregister.com/blog/9-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-chair-of-st-peter The oldest parts of the original wooden chair date no further back than the 6th century Wikipedia, "Chair of Saint Peter", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chair_of_Saint_Peter, sourced from "The Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle", 22 February 2021, Catholic Exchange / Today's Saint, https://catholicexchange.com/the-chair-of-peter



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