Real estate holdings published for first time show it owns 4,051 properties in Italy, 1,120 abroad
The Vatican has released information on its real estate holdings for the first time, revealing it owns more than 5,000 properties, as part of its most detailed financial disclosures ever. The information released on Saturday was contained in two documents – a consolidated financial statement for 2020 for the Holy See and the first ever public budget for the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (Apsa). Apsa, a sort of general accounting office, manages real estate and investments, pays salaries, and acts as a purchasing office and human resources department. The 30-page Apsa budget showed it owns 4,051 properties in Italy and about 1,120 abroad, not including its embassies around the world. Only about 14% of its Italian properties were rented at market rates, while the others were rented at cut rates, many to church employees. About 40% were institutional buildings such as schools, convents and hospitals. The documentation showed Apsa owns properties as investments in upmarket areas of London, Geneva, Lausanne and Paris. One building, in London’s South Kensington, led to enormous losses after it was bought by the Vatican’s secretariat of state as an investment in 2014. On Tuesday, the trial of 10 people in connection with its purchase, including the prominent cardinal Angelo Becciu, starts in the Vatican. They are charged with financial crimes including embezzlement, money laundering, fraud, extortion and abuse of office. Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, head of the Vatican’s secretariat for the economy (SPE), told the official Vatican News website that the building would be sold soon. He said the trial would be a “turning point” in the Vatican’s credibility in economic matters and that a similar event could not be repeated because of measures put into place since.