July 4, 2013 / 3:26 PM / 5 years ago

Vatican posts small 2012 surplus but donations fall

VATICAN CITY, July 4 (Reuters) - The Vatican, embroiled in scandal involving its bank, released a rare bit of good news on its finances on Thursday, announcing that it had posted a $2.2 million budget surplus in 2012.

However, figures released showed donations to a fund for use by the pope dropped by nearly 12 percent in 2012.

The fall coincided with the year the Vatican was hit by a leaks scandal and the arrest of former Pope Benedict’s butler.

The Vatican bank, which has been the subject of scandals for decades, is currently under investigation by Italian magistrates for money laundering. The bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), denies the accusations.

A Vatican spokesman said he believed the worldwide economic crisis was responsible for a drop to $56.9 million from $69.7 million the year before in Peter’s Pence, a special collection taken up each year for use by the pope.

The surplus of $2.2 million in 2012 was due “mainly to good performance in financial management”, according to the statement, released following two days of meetings by Vatican officials, some attended by Pope Francis, to review the financial situation.

The Vatican budget includes costs for the running of the Catholic Church’s central administration, known as the Holy See, and its embassies around the world. The main costs are its 2,823 personnel.

The budget for the running of the State of Vatican City, a tiny sovereign state surrounded by Rome, is part of an autonomous administration and has its own budget. Vatican City State, which employs 1,936 people, had a surplus of $23 million in 2012.

While the Vatican bank’s figures were not given in the statement, it said the bank gave $50 million of its profits to the pope “in support of his apostolic and charitable ministry”.

The Vatican bank announced separately earlier this year that it had profits of 86.6 million euros ($112.34 million) in 2012

The bank’s top two managers resigned on Monday, three days after a Vatican prelate with connections to the bank was arrested by Italian authorities on charges of plotting to smuggle $20 million from Switzerland. ($1 = 0.7709 euros) (Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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