Friday, September 08, 2006

Roman Catholicism: not rendering unto cesar

The first reading for today is taken from the Gospel according to St Matthew, chapter 19 verses 21-24:

‘Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.'

The second reading for today is taken from the gospel truth according to the Financial Times, second section, page 24 [subscription required]:

Smallest state with a far-reaching portfolio

By Tony Barber in Rome

The Vatican is the world's smallest sovereign state, but its international investment portfolio stretches from New York to Milan and is worth, at a conservative estimate, many hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Vatican also owns an incalculably valuable collection of architecture, art and property, such as St Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the Renaissance masterpieces of the Vatican's museums and galleries, and an array of let property in Rome.

At a more humble level, the Vatican makes a tidy profit from daily sales in the city-state's supermarket, petrol station, electronics store and post office.

The Vatican invested heavily in Italian companies after the second world war.

These days, the Vatican's investments are spread across a wide range of international stocks, bonds and currencies. But its portfolio managers are not allowed to hold shares in, for example, pharmaceutical companies that make birth control devices.

According to the Holy See's prefecture for economic affairs, the Vatican reaped a profit of $55m from its investments last year, up from $7.7m in 2004.

Here endeth the first lesson.

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