Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani said today in a press conference in the Vatican: "The good news is that Holy See's financial statement for the 2006 fiscal year shows, for the third year in a row, a surplus of €2.4 million."
The cardinal said, however, that although the Vatican finished in the black, this year's surplus will be chalked up as a loss in comparison to the surpluses registered in 2005 -- €9.7 million ($13.2 million) -- and in 2004 -- €3.1 million ($4.2 million).
The prelate explained that this is "a great decrease from the ideal net gains of the financial sector," and that the Holy See's investments "showed an increase of €13.7 million ($18.6 million) compared to the €43.3 million ($59 million) in 2005."
According to Cardinal Sebastiani, the difference of €29 million ($39.5 million) "is due above all to a sudden very strong reversal of trend in fluctuations of the rate of exchange, especially of the U.S. dollar."
The Holy See bank accounts in dollars for financial reasons, one of which is that fact that donations of the faithful from various parts of the world arrive in dollars, but its expenses are mostly in Euro.
"We are very prudent and we invest mostly in bonds," Cardinal Sebastiani said. "We act with the logic of a good 'father of the family.'"