The Vatican is struggling to balance its books against the background of increased running costs and currency fluctuation.
Higher investment income and the sale of property, mainly individual apartments, in buildings outside Rome helped to stem three years of deficit to produce a small surplus in 2004 on revenues, mainly donations and sales, of about $246.3 million,
The 2005 forecast is break-even because the extraordinary costs connected with the death and funeral of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI will be accounted for separately.
The Vatican accountants, looking for every revenue opportunity, are tightening the copyright rules for publishing the speeches and writings of Pope Benedict and any other papal texts of the past 50 years.
A row has now broken out when it was revealed that a publishing house in Milan had to pay £10,000 (€14,550) to reprint 30 lines from the first speech by the Pope following his election in April, after the Vatican transferred copyright on papal texts to its own publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
The Vatican has said that papal texts have always been subject to copyright but that the rules were often not observed. Transferring the copyright was to protect papal works and ensure that the rules would be applied more rigorously, a spokesman said.
The spokesman denied that the charges were excessive and said there was a sliding scale of 3 to 5 per cent in royalties on books which used extracts from the Pope’s teachings. But the newspaper La Stampa claims that the Milan publishing house which printed an excerpt from the Pope’s first speech had to agree to pay 15 per cent in royalties and £2,000 (€2,900) in legal costs.