The Vatican is not at risk of default but it faces "difficult years" as the coronavirus dries up donations and other contributions to its budget, said the head of its Secretariat for the Economy, Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves.
Revenue is expected to fall between 25% and 45% this year, Guerrero told official website Vatican News on Wednesday. In recent years the Vatican has run a deficit of 60 million euros ($65 million) to 70 million euros per year, he said, as spending outran the around 270 million euros the Vatican receives from individual Catholics and national churches around the world.
"Someone might think that the deficit is a hole resulting from maladministration," Guerrero said, but he said that the spending is geared toward supporting "the mission of the Holy See" and of the pope, as well as charity work and the Vatican's vast media operations.
The revenue contraction this year is partly a consequence of the closing down of the Vatican Museums and lower income from the Holy See's properties in Rome and elsewhere.
"There will be a contraction of rent income," Guerrero said. "We had already decided, when we approved this year's budget, that spending should be reduced to lower the deficit."
Concerns regarding a possible Vatican default had already surfaced in October after a book revealed details of the church's finances. Bishop Nunzio Galantino, president of the Vatican's asset management office Apsa, had dismissed the rumors saying that his office was in fact running a profit.