Every month, Pope Benedict XVI focuses on a special prayer intention. For the month of December, the Pope’s prayer intention is “that our personal experience of suffering may be an occasion for better understanding the situation of unease and pain which is the lot of many people who are alone, sick or aged, and stir us all to give them generous help.”
Every month, Pope Benedict XVI focuses on a special prayer intention. For the month of October, the Pope’s prayer intention is “that Catholic Universities may more and more be places where, in the light of the Gospel, it is possible to experience the harmonious unity existing between faith and reason.”
Every month, Pope Benedict XVI focuses on a special prayer intention. For the month of August, the Pope’s prayer intention is for the Unemployed and the Homeless, specifically, “that those who are without work or homes or who are otherwise in serious need may find understanding and welcome, as well as concrete help in overcoming their difficulties.”
Every month, Pope Benedict XVI focuses on a special prayer intention. For the month of June, the Pope’s prayer intention is for respect for human life, specifically, “that every national and transnational institution may strive to guarantee respect for human life from conception to natural death.”
Every month, Pope Benedict XVI focuses on a special prayer intention. For the month of May, the Pope’s prayer intention concerns human trafficking, specifically, “that the shameful and monstrous commerce in human beings, which sadly involves millions of women and children, may be ended.”
Every month, Pope Benedict XVI focuses on a special prayer intention. For the month of April, the Pope’s prayer intention is “that every tendency to fundamentalism and extremism may be countered by constant respect, by tolerance and by dialogue among all believers.”
Every month, Pope Benedict focuses on a specific prayer intention. For the month of March, the Pope’s intention is for the world economy, specifically “that the world economy may be managed according to the principles of justice and equity, taking account of the real needs of peoples, especially the poorest.”
Every month, Pope Benedict XVI focuses on a special prayer intention. For the month of February, the Pope’s prayer intention is “For all scholars and intellectuals, that by means of sincere search for the truth they may arrive at an understanding of the one true God.”
Here in the US, we are becoming accustomed to seeing many of our parishes and dioceses publish financial reports at the end of each fiscal year. These reports promote financial accountability and transparency. They also encourage a sense of responsibility among parishioners.
Catholics will be interested to note that the Vatican has also released a top-level report of its finances for the fiscal year 2008. All figures are in Euros. As of today, 1 Euro = 1.44 US dollars.
The Vatican’s finances are kept in two different categories. First is the pastoral work of the Holy See, officially known as the work of the “Dicasteries and Organisms of the Holy See.” This includes all ministry and charity work, as well as the Pope’s pastoral care around the world. The second is the “Governorate of Vatican City State” which basically covers all of the support services for the territory. This includes, for example, security, utilities, and maintenance.
The Dicasteries and Organisms of the Holy See employ 2,732 people (2,206 men and 526 women). Employee categories are as follows: 761 priests, 334 religious, and 1,637 lay.
Figures for the pastoral work of the Holy See for Fiscal Year 2008 were as follows:
- Total Revenue: 253,953,869 Euros
- Total Expenses: 254,865,383 Euros
- Net: -911,514 Euros
The Vatican City State employs 1,894 persons (1589 men and 305 women). The majority, 1,835, are lay people and 59 are religious. The Vatican City State ended fiscal year 2008 with a deficit of 15,313,124 Euros. Major expenses included a study for a new internet/phone communications system, new solar panels, maintenance of the vast artwork including that in the Vatican Museums, extension of visitors’ hours, security expenses, restructuring the Apostolic Library, and major restoration work at two basilicas, St. Paul Outside-the-Walls and St. Mary Major. As can be expected, Vatican finances also were negatively impacted by the worldwide economic crisis.
The largest donations from Catholics to the Vatican as a whole came from the US, Italy and Germany. Catholics in Korea and Japan also gave large donations, on a per capita basis.
All financial records were audited and certified, according to the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
On August 4, the US Senate confirmed Miguel Diaz as the US ambassador to the Vatican. What makes this appointment so intriguing is that Diaz is a Catholic theologian, the first-ever to be appointed to this position. Often, diplomats have a political career history. Although Diaz was active in President Obama’s campaign, serving on the Catholic advisory group, he is by training and practice a theologian.
Until now, Diaz has been employed as a professor of theology at both St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN and at the College of St. Benedict, also in Minnesota. He was born in Cuba and is also the first Hispanic American to serve as ambassador.
It should be fascinating to watch the dialogue between the Vatican and the US during Diaz’s term. His ability to understand and apply theological language to our political actions should be a big plus all around. Stay tuned…
Before President Obama met Pope Benedict XVI in July 2009, Catholic media reported that the President’s staff had been busy searching for a gift to give the Pope. They finally settled on a liturgical stole that was a relic. For 18 years, the stole had covered the remains of St. John Neumann at St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia. This was a very appropriate gift, especially since St. John Neumann was the first US Bishop to become a saint. The Redemptorists, who had recently made changes to the tomb, were honored to have the stole serve as the gift.
What then, people wondered, would be the Pope’s gift to the President? The Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, recently published the answer. The Pope gave the President several gifts. In addition to rosaries and pontifical medals, the Pope gave a mosaic of St. Peter’s and an autographed copy of his latest encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. These also are very appropriate gifts and in line with gifts given by the Pope in similar circumstances. But then the Pope added another gift. He gave the President a copy of last year’s Instruction on bioethics, Dignitas Personae. The thought behind this last gift was that the document would help the President to better understand the Catholic Church’s position on these matters. Bioethics is an area of disagreement between both, especially when focused on abortion.
During last May’s controversy when the University of Notre Dame invited President Obama to speak at its commencement, University President Fr. Jenkins said that he believed it was important to both illuminate “issues with the moral and spiritual wisdom of the Catholic tradition” and to serve as a place where “people of good will are received with charity, are able to speak, be heard, and engage in responsible and reasoned dialogue.” The Pope’s cordial welcome of President Obama was certainly an example of this. The meeting between the Pope and the President marked the face-to-face beginning of a dialogue. Let the dialogue continue.