1. Down the barrel of $158 million gun, Vatican reform is coming … but what kind?

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, May 13, 2020, Opinion

According to an internal Vatican analysis recently presented to Pope Francis for a meeting with his department heads, declines in revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic will cause the Vatican’s annual deficit to balloon somewhere between 30 and 175 percent, depending on which of three scenarios, ranging from best to worst case, is realized.

Ironically, this crisis actually may help the pope’s attempts at reform. Change now is inevitable, no matter what sort of resistance the fabled “old guard” may put up, because the Vatican finds itself looking down the barrel of a $158 million gun.

Devil in the details
Yet the devil is always in the details, so the question is what sort of reform. In that regard, two points are of special interest in the analysis submitted by the Secretariat for the Economy.

The first involves investments. The analysis recommends that Pope Francis direct heads of Vatican dicasteries (the technical term for a department) to move their liquid assets currently in other financial institutions to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA), sometimes dubbed the Vatican’s “central bank.” Also under consideration is directing dicasteries to move assets to APSA currently deposited in the Institute for the Works of Religion, the so-called “Vatican bank.”

The reasons for doing so, presumably, would be two-fold.

First, APSA is responsible for the Vatican’s payroll, and since almost half of its expenditures go to personnel – not just salaries, but also pension contributions – the idea is to direct assets to the area of greatest immediate need.

Second, by concentrating those assets in one place, a more rational and profitable investment plan for assets not required for day-to-day operations could be fashioned. One large investor is in a better position to negotiate returns than several smaller players acting on their own.

The other interesting piece concerns human resources.

“There’s a need to ensure flexibility in the salary system in order to be able to reward competence and merit, and to be able to face critical periods like the present with adequate instruments,” the internal analysis says.

To decode all that, it’s a diplomatic way of making two points Vatican insiders have known for a long time.

First, the Vatican has a bloated payroll relative to its resources. It can’t sustain those expenditures, not only because of salaries (which are relatively low) but pension obligations. Most observers think it needs to trim about a third of its current workforce.

Second, if that happens, remaining employees will have to be nimbler and able to work outside their present silos, perhaps working for a variety of entities where they have particular skills. That means a serious investment in professional formation.

Bottom line: Like any company, or any family, facing deep and mounting debt, the Vatican can’t go on like it has. Change is coming. The drama pivots on what sort of change it will be – and on that front, and with apologies for the Econ 101 pun, demand for answers at the moment significantly exceeds supply.

https://cruxnow.com/news-analysis/2020/05/down-the-barrel-of-158-million-gun-vatican-reform-is-coming-but-what-kind/ ___________________________________________________________

2. UN chief urges faith leaders to challenge harmful messages.

By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press, May 12, 2020, 10:49 PM

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged religious leaders on Tuesday to challenge “inaccurate and harmful messages” that are fueling rising ethno-nationalism, stigma, hate speech and conflict as the coronavirus pandemic circles the globe.

The U.N. chief warned a video meeting on the role of faith leaders in addressing the challenges of COVID-19 that “extremists and radical groups are seeking to exploit eroding trust in leadership and feed on people’s vulnerability to serve their own ends.”

He called on faith leaders to promote solidarity based on human rights and human dignity as well as social cohesion, mutual respect and understanding.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/un-chief-urges-faith-leaders-to-challenge-harmful-messages/2020/05/12/6aac40cc-94c4-11ea-87a3-22d324235636_story.html ___________________________________________________________

3. Virginia parishes near DC face delays in reopening.

By Matt Hadro, Catholic News Agency, May 12, 2020, 1:00 PM

As Virginia’s governor halted the reopening of several northern counties on Tuesday, the Diocese of Arlington said that Bishop Michael Burbidge is monitoring the situation and would be responding to changes in the diocese as they happen.

A spokesperson for the diocese told CNA that Bishop Burbidge met with a working group on Tuesday to plan for “scenarios we may enter in the coming week.”

“Final plans are being worked out as we speak, but we anticipate moving forward on a regional basis consistent with the Governor’s announcement,” CNA was told.


4. Vatican backs worldwide interfaith day of prayer and fasting.

By Courtney Mares, May 12, 2020, 12:15 PM

On May 14, people of all religious affiliations are called to participate in a day of prayer, fasting, and acts of charity for the end of the coronavirus pandemic.

The worldwide day of prayer is the initiative of the Vatican’s Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, formed in August under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

The committee sent out an appeal for prayer in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Pashto, Malay, Persian, Swahili, Turkish, Urdu, Chinese, and Hebrew.


TCA Media Monitoring provides a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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