Vatican bank reports increased profit, costs and donations in 2023

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Institute for the Works of Religion, commonly known as the Vatican bank, reported a net income of 30.6 million euros (about $32.8 million) for 2023, a modest increase from the 29.6 million euros (about $31.6 million) in profit reported in 2022.

According to the bank's annual report released June 14, which details financials for 2023, the board approved distributing a dividend of 13.6 million euros ($14.6 million) "to support the work of religion and charity," a significant increase from the 5.2 million euros ($5.5 million) proposed for 2022.

The bank also reported that it provided 3.2 million euros ($3.4 million) to various charitable causes in 2023, up from 1.1 million euros ($1.2 million) reported in 2022.

It said that the "most common donations are direct financial aid for destitute families -- usually via parishes -- specific help for missionary and charity work or contributions to young student priests for the completion of university studies."

The costs for the Vatican bank's administrative expenses rose by 2 million euros from 20.9 to 22.9 million euros ($24.5 million) in 2023 "mainly due to the reinforcements of investments in human and capital resources."

"Cost control continued to be core to management efforts" though the bank made investments aimed at improving customer services and increasing digitalization, it said in a statement accompanying the report's release.

The Vatican bank services more than 12,300 clients that are part of and serve the Catholic Church, according to the report. That figure decreased from the previous year (12,759) due to the closure of accounts due to non-compliance, extended periods of non-use or the return of seminarians or clerics to their home countries.

However the report said that client assets managed by the bank rose by 5.4% in 2023 to 5.4 billion euros ($5.8 billion), and it specified that nearly half of the bank's client assets belong to religious orders including congregations, universities, seminaries and monasteries, while 28% belong to departments of the Roman Curia, Vatican offices and nunciatures. The rest is divided among bishops' conferences, clergy, Vatican employees, foundations and other entities.

An independent auditors' report produced by the accounting firm Mazars said the financial statements "give a true and fair view" of the bank's financial performance.

In his message accompanying the report, Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, president of the bank's board of supervisors, said the bank will continue "to play its role in the process of centralization of all asset management activities in the Vatican" per the pope's instructions and regulatory developments.

He also noted that the bank will work with other Vatican bodies "on further developing Fath Consistent Investment ethical principles according to the social teaching of the Church."

"It is critical that the Vatican be considered as a reference in these matters," he wrote.

The report stated that 100% of asset management products were in line with the principles of Catholic ethics in 2023 and said it had adopted a "well-tested proprietary methodology that uses very strict selection and monitoring criteria to ensure sustainable and responsible investment choices."

For 2024, the bank said its goals include increasing its market share in the global Catholic community, increasing efficiency, optimizing asset management and strengthening risk management and compliance "to protect customers as well as Vatican and Holy See Institutions."