The Vatican’s economic chief has asked Catholics to make donations to Peter’s Pence ahead of the worldwide annual collection the weekend of June 26 and 27.
Fr. Juan A. Guerrero, S.J., prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, said Friday in an interview with Vatican News that donations to Peter’s Pence were down by 18% during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The pandemic-related crisis is likely to make itself felt again this year,” he said.
Peter’s Pence is the Holy See’s annual collection to finance the pope’s charitable works and other priorities, including the Roman Curia.
The annual collection is usually taken up in Catholic churches around the world on a weekend close to the June 29 Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. In 2020, the collection was moved to Oct. 4, because of church closures.
Guerrero told Vatican News that in 2019, Catholics gave 53.86 million euros ($64.4 million) to Peter’s Pence, a decrease of 23% from 2015.
In 2020, Catholics gave 44.1 million euros ($52.7 million).
The economic chief noted that, as of Dec. 31, 2020, the Peter’s Pence fund was worth around 205 million euros ($245 million), some of which was not liquid, because it was invested in properties, such as the controversial building at 60 Sloane Avenue in London. That investment resulted in major losses for the Holy See.
Guerrero called this “a painful story” and said that the Holy See has “embarked on a path of transparency,” including clarification of “unclear events.”
He said Peter’s Pence has been decapitalized in recent years, using more than it has received from collections, to cover expenses of the Roman Curia otherwise left unfunded
“It is obvious that it can no longer be like this,” Guerrero commented.
In a 2021 budget released in March, the Holy See projected a deficit of nearly $60 million this year.
According to the projections, Peter’s Pence will provide the Holy See with $57 million in income, with $37 million being used for operational costs and $20 million for charitable grants.
A press release from the Dicastery for Communications June 25 said people affected by the coronavirus pandemic will be among the recipients of Peter’s Pence money this year.
It said the donations would also go to support Pope Francis’ service to the Catholic Church around the world.
The press release provided information for how to contribute to Peter’s Pence online or through a bank transfer, as additional options to giving through a parish collection.
“Let’s help the pope to help,” it said.
“It is important to collaborate because we cannot imagine that the mission of the Church can be sustained without the contribution of the faithful,” Guerrero said. “The proclamation of the Gospel throughout the world, with all that it entails, presupposes a support structure. The Church has always lived this way.”