Even the Catholic Church Has A Financial Mess

Two and a half years into his term, Pope Francis is still swimming upstream very hard in cleaning up the Catholic Church’s finances. It’s something he promised 1.2 billion Catholics he’d do, but it’s been a tough road.

For decades, stories of corruption and mismanagement have plagued the church. I wonder if that is any different than any of us just muddling along for years. Independent auditors just found $1.5 billion stashed in a bunch of hidden accounts – and they’ve just started.

The Holy Sea actually had a deficit of $27 million last year. Hmmm..kind of like most families…except the church now actually knows the number, instead of guessing. And the Pope has admitted that spending is out of control…that’s unlike most of us staying in denial and in the dark.

He has also now ordered a valuation of all the church’s assets and real estate. But that’ll take three years to complete.  It’s kind of like we should be doing a once a year list of assets and debts – what we owe versus what we own – except we can do it in 15 minutes. In the words of the Vatican economic czar: You can’t plan it if you don’t understand what your assets and obligations are.

Top management at the Vatican bank has now been replaced. That’s after years and years of stories involving the mafia and drug dealers using the bank for money laundering. Auditors have also discovered massive shortages in inventory from the Vatican stores – that would be internal theft, as well as bootlegging operations selling tax free cigarettes and gasoline.

In their massive real estate assets all over the world, initial audit guestimates are that they’ve been undervalued by a factor of four.

You have to cheer and pray for the Pope to keep going. It’s akin to a massive charity. And I wouldn’t donate to one that had that many financial issues. But then, the 3,000 bureaucrats are putting up incredible resistance to any changes or anyone looking over their shoulder and holding them accountable.

Imagine their reaction when Pope Francis told senior clerics recently that, if a job was done without estimate and without authority, we don’t pay.

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