Disaster on the horizon for Vatican finances?

Okay, that title is a little provocative.   But…. but…

Here is a story from Hemscott

Alitalia president named as Vatican’s international financial controller

ROME (Thomson Financial) – Alitalia president Maurizio Prato has been named as the Vatican’s international financial controller by Pope Benedict XVI, according to a statement from the Holy See.

The council of international financial controllers is attached to the Vatican’s prefecture of economic affairs, which controls the administration of Vatican City and drafts the Holy See’s financial accounts.

The council has to comprise five professionals particularly competent in examining accounts and balance sheets, and who are prepared to give their services free of charge. The council members meet at least once a year.

Prato was already a councillor with the Vatican’s prefecture of economic affairs.

Prato will take on this new role ‘in addition to his functions at the head of Alitalia’, a spokesperson for Alitalia told Agence France-Presse.


Given the grand state of affairs at Alitalia these days, can this be good?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Shadrach says:


    That stands for ‘Always Late In Take Off, Always Late In Arrival’. Well, doesn’t it?

  2. Al says:

    Why am I suddenly seeing a disaster movie along the lines of Airport meets Airplane?

  3. Al says:

    Why am I suddenly seeing a disaster movie along the lines of Airport meets Airplane?

  4. fr christopher says:

    That is tragically ironic but typically Catholic.

  5. Fr. Michael says:

    Wait. I thought that everything Pope Benedict XVI decides is perfect and amazing! Or is that only in things liturgical?


    God Bless.

  6. Joseph says:

    He would have been better off naming a German from the Bundeskbank(Sp)

  7. Syriacus says:

    Mr.Prato is desperately selling off Alitalia to AirFrance-KLM, so…

  8. Jack says:

    And for those of us who cannot travel and are too young to care about reading the buisness section, what is so bad about Altilia?

  9. Matt Q says:

    Well, let’s give the schmo the benefit of the doubt. At least he doesn’t have to worry about raising revenue and worrying about the cost of operations at the Vatican.

    There was a financial scandal at the beginning of the last reign. Hope we aren’t seeing another one in the making at the beginning of this one–and it was around John Paul’s third year.

  10. Could someone please tell me, did the Vatican verge on bankruptcy about 15 years ago? If so, what actually happened?

  11. Prof. Basto says:

    To the expectation of Our Lady:

    Thecnically speaking, the Holy See, as a Sovereign juridical person of public international Law, and as such it cannot be declared bankrupt.

    There is no court, no authority, with jurisdiction over it capable of declaring the Holy See, or the Vatican City State over which the Holy See exercises Sovereign power, bankrupt.

    Economically and financially speaking, yes, you can talk of “bankruptcy”, in the sense that there is an inability to pay the creditors, because the liabilities surpass the liquid assets.

    But, being a Sovereign entity, the Holy See’s debt is Sovereign debt, much like the debt of any given independent State, such as the United States, Mexico, etc. Due to Sovereign immunity of jurisdiction, you don’t have legal remedies to force payment by a Sovereign entity, much less to declare it bankrupt and impose on it the rules of bankruptcy of some jurisdiction.

    Of course, default by a Sovereign entity is a grave matter, and it probably would do great harm to the financial administration of the Holy See in the long run, since financial institutions would no longer place confidence in the Holy See, and it would not have credit in the future. That’s why the best solution is always a negotiated one.

    To sum up, the Vatican can’t go bankrupt the way a diocese can.

  12. Thankyou for your answer, professor.

  13. MD says:

    “Could someone please tell me, did the Vatican verge on bankruptcy about 15 years ago? If so, what actually happened?”

    Unfortunately, a well-liked prelate was given oversight of Vatican funds. Most likely due to lacking experience in management skills of a financial institution, he was persuaded into investing funds into what was later exposed as fraudulent financial schemes (involving some very shady individuals).

    From what has been publicly released, it appears Church property was preyed on, not prayed on.

    The current decision may not be a strong testimony of the Vatican having any divine protection in efficiency.

  14. Legion of Mary says:

    I work in Finance as a Manager of Budgets. I would love to work in Rome. Are they hiring?

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