The following is among the most delicate, and not just for Catholics who have given money to the Vatican: Was Peter’s Pence used to finance deals like the infamous London real estate transaction?
In 2021, donations to Peter’s Pence decreased noticeably by about 15%. Nevertheless, over $47 million was raised last year, with the United States (29.3%) being the greatest donor nation, followed by Italy (11.3%), Germany (5.2%), Korea (3.2%), and France (2.7 percent ).
The religious custom is supposed to have started 1000 years ago in England during the Saxon period.
However, the Vatican made a point of stating that the unexpected losses incurred — estimated to total a staggering $119 million — in no way affected “Peter’s Pence or the donations of the faithful” when it confirmed it was selling its shares of a London property for $223 million in a statement on July 1.
Why the explanation? Was money utilized to help the needy improperly in the transaction?
Looking behind the scenes can help answer the mystery of how Peter’s Pence was raised.
While the circumstances surrounding the property’s purchase are the focus of the ongoing trial in the Vatican courts, which includes claims of fraud and embezzlement against 10 people,
Pope Francis has ordered the dismantling of the Secretariat of State’s oversight of financial assets and real estate holdings due to recent criticism of the Vatican’s finances.
Fr. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, SJ, the economy prefect of the Vatican, stated that “people have a right to know how we use the money that is provided to us.”
But in 2014, prior to this papal decree and a broader movement for transparency, the Secretariat of State was considering investing in an Angolan oil project before abandoning the idea and considering a London real estate investment.
The issue of borrowed money and loans surrounding this transaction is one among the issues covered by the ongoing Vatican trial.
Fabrizio Tirabassi, a former Vatican official, indicated during his questioning at the hearing on June 20 last week that there was an Obolo Fund when he first began working at the Secretariat of State.
Peter’s Pence is known in Italian as Obolo di San Pietro.
Tirabassi said before the court that the Secretariat of State once had a department devoted to collecting donations.
He said that a variety of banks’ dedicated accounts were used to “handle” these gifts.
There were further accounts with Italian financial organizations such Credito Artigiano and Poste Italiane as well as the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) (the Italian Post Office banking system).
Over the past few decades, this complex system of accounts has been thinned out, simplifying donation administration.
To this goal, the Secretariat of State authorized a “Peter’s Pence account” — officially Conto Obolo — to hold the monies in one account.
Although this account was still active at the time of the London agreement, it appears that it now only managed the Secretariat of State’s resources rather than the actual Peter’s Pence donations.
In a June 2021 interview with Vatican News, Fr. Alves responded to a question concerning the London trade and Peter’s Pence by saying, “Peter’s Pence investments were typically placed together with investments from other funds assigned to the Secretariat of State.
It was difficult to distinguish between what belongs to Peter’s Pence and what belongs to other funds when referring to a part, certain shares, or a building.
The information on the 2021 Peter’s Pence balance sheet indicates that in 2021, Peter’s Pence allocated roughly $56 million to support the initiatives supported by the Holy See in carrying out the Holy Father’s apostolic mission, and nearly $10 million was allotted to initiatives that directly assist the less fortunate.
In reality, the $56 million from Peter’s Pence went toward paying the Roman Curia’s $238 million bill.
It is hardly surprising that the Holy See will get the majority of the St. Peter’s Pence collection.
This has always been the collection’s main goal, especially since the nineteenth century following the collapse of the Papal States. Therefore, supporting the Holy Father is the main objective.