It is not fitting, when one is in God’s service, to have a gloomy face or a chilling look.
The Vatican has registered one of its worst budget deficits in years, plunging back into the red with a (EURO)15 million ($19 million) deficit in 2011 after a brief respite of profit.
The Vatican on Thursday blamed the poor outcome on high personnel and communications costs and adverse market conditions, particularly for its real estate holdings.
Not even a (EURO)50 million gift to the pope from the Vatican bank and increased donations from dioceses and religious orders could offset the expenses and poor investment returns, the Vatican said in its annual financial report.
The Vatican said it ran a (EURO)14.9 million deficit in 2011 after posting a surplus of (EURO)9.85 million in 2010. The 2010 surplus, however, was something of an anomaly. In 2009 the Vatican ran a deficit of (EURO)4.01 million, in 2008 the deficit was (EURO)0.9 million and in 2007 it was nearly (EURO)9.1 million.
The Vatican city state, which mainly manages the Vatican Museums and is a separate and autonomous administration, managed a budget surplus of (EURO)21.8 million. That’s largely due to a spike in revenue from the museums: More than five million people visited the Sistine Chapel and other works of art in the Vatican museums last year, bringing in (EURO)91.3 million in 2011 compared to (EURO)82.4 million a year earlier.
And the Vatican could also cheer that donations from the faithful were also up last year despite the global economic crisis: Donations from Peter’s Pence, which are donations from the faithful to support the pope’s charity works, rose from $67.7 million in 2010 to $69.7 million last year. That money, however, doesn’t figure into the Vatican’s operating budget, though contributions from dioceses, religious orders and the Vatican bank do.
The Vatican bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, is able to make such a big contribution to the Vatican’s budget each year based on investments.
Draining the Vatican’s finances were the high costs for its main job of spreading the faith via Vatican media: Vatican Radio, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano and Vatican television all have significant expenses and little or nothing in the way of revenue. Vatican Radio, however, is expected to save hundreds of thousands of euros a year in energy costs each year after it cut back short and medium-wave transmissions to Europe and the United States from its main transmission point in Rome.
The Rev. Federico Lombardi, who runs the Vatican radio and television departments and is also the Vatican spokesman, stressed that layoffs among the 2,832 Holy See personnel aren’t in the offing, although he acknowledged that savings must come from elsewhere.
During the meeting of cardinals who oversee the Vatican’s finances this week, he said, there was a “request for prudence and savings.”
“I’m not an expert,” he said of the deficit. “Yes, it’s bigger than in past years, it’s true.” But he noted that the amounts on a global scale aren’t alarming. “Certainly they indicate a need to pay attention and see the criteria the Vatican’s assets are administered.”
26-year-old Lawrence Edmonds is a man with a taste for religion. In the last 13 months he has traveled 5,000 around England, licking 42 Anglican Cathedrals.
I know what you’re thinking, but Lawrence isn’t mad, at least not officially. This bizarre journey of his is the result of a bet two of his friends made at a pub, one night. Adam challenged Dan to lick every Anglican cathedral in the UK. If he agreed and failed to perform the task, Dan would have to run naked around the York Minster, but if he did do it in time, Adam would have to perform the streak. After talking with Dan and learning he had only licked Exeter Cathedral, he asked Adam if he could take the bet in Dan’s place. His friend accepted so he started traveling around England, taking photos of himself licking various holy cathedrals, and posting them all on a blog. So far he has put his tongue on 42 edifices, but recently discovered he has 20 more to go in order to win the bet.
After he told Adam he had discovered 20 more Anglican cathedrals in Scotland, Wales and Ireland that weren’t originally included in the bet, his friend agreed to give him six more months to lick them, as well. Now the deadline is December 16, 2012, and Lawrence is confident he won’t be the one streaking. He has to take photos of himself licking every Anglican cathedral, and he even makes comments about their taste on his blog. Apparently, Wakefield was the worst yet. “Now I’ve tasted some pretty revolting things in my life, from rotten shark meat to a sheep’s eyeball, but Wakefield Cathedral defeats them all,” Edmonds noted.
Asked why the weird bet was centered on licking cathedrals, Lawrence Edmonds said “we have no idea, it just was”. About his plans once he reaches his goal, the 26-year-old said he doesn’t know what the future holds, but he’ll try to make sure what ever it is, it involves travel. “Some friends in Scandanavia recommended that I should go and lick cathedrals out there too, but I think that might be taking it a bit too far…” he told York Mix.
Also, speaking of the HT or perhaps I should say, the demise of this common internet courtesy, it is amazing for me to see how few still cite their sources. One does all the hard work, you find the stuck away article/post, blog it, and suddenly it’s everywhere, without a tip o’ the hat (for those who are not so blog savvy, that simply means an acknowledgement to someone for bringing something to the blogger’s attention). Ladies and gentlemen, it still is considered good netiquette when sharing a link or news item to give a HT to the person from whom you learned of the item. Please.