Reading Time: 2 minutes

We saw recently that the U.S. Catholic Church is, in the words of a papist editor, “going broke.” He didn’t mean morally bankrupt — that ship sailed decades ago — but financially.

Now Reuters brings us the news that the Vatican, too, is facing terrible economic times.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc with the Vatican’s finances, forcing it to dip into reserve funds and implement some of the toughest cost control measures ever in the tiny city-state.

Against this bleak backdrop, top Vatican administrators held an emergency meeting in late March. They ordered a freeze on promotions and hirings and a ban on overtime, travel and large events.

For now, no one is being let go, even though thinning the Pope’s troupe of richly robed and mitered sycophants would surely result in substantial savings.

The pandemic has also drastically slowed the flow of funds from the Vatican Museums, which received some seven million visitors last year and are the city’s most reliable cash cow.

The museums, which generate an estimated $100 million yearly, have been closed since March 8 and are not expected to open until late May at the earliest, resulting in up to three months of lost revenue.

Even after they reopen, officials fear that enhanced security measures, social distancing requirements, new health regulations and the expected dearth of international tourists will erode ticket and souvenir sales for years.

Father Juan Antonio Guerrero, the head of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, estimated

… that Holy See income would fall between 25 and 45 percent because of the coronavirus. …

Bishops conferences in rich countries such as the United States and Germany make large contributions to the running of the Vatican but the pandemic has also hit their finances.

The financial effects of the pandemic come on top of previous years’ shortfalls.

The last year for which the Vatican has published full budget figures was 2015, when the Holy See had a deficit of $13.1 million. Since then, Guerrero said, the Holy See has had yearly income of about $293 million and expenses of about $347 million euros, resulting in a yearly deficit of about $54 million.

We should all send thoughts and prayers.