Church’s €3.5 million surplus will turn to multimillion losses due to COVID-19

Church estimating losses ranging from €6-€8 million by the end of 2020 due to coronavirus pandemic

The Church has registered a €3.5 million surplus for its 2019 financial year, after registering a deficit of €137,000 in 2018.

Administrative secretary Michael Pace Ross said that the Maltese Catholic archdiocese recorded an upturn in revenue during 2019 due to an increase in capital gains on investment and an increase in dividends from APS Bank. Revenue increased by €2.42 million.

Pace Ross also said last year’s surplus was not enough to make up for the financial challenges caused by the pandemic, with the archdiocese resorting to past savings to carry out work by the Church.

‘Back of the envelope’ estimates are predicting losses ranging from €6 million to €8m, according to Pace Ross.

He said that due to the coronavirus pandemic, revenue decreased sharply from all sectors including fundraising, donations, investments and APS bank dividends.

With a registered expenditure of €4.8 million in 2019, 60% of expenditure covered clergy and laity wages, while 20% were directed towards operating costs.

Expenditure increased by €1.17 million over 2018. €1.4 million were paid by the Church in taxes.

Pace Ross also said restoration efforts have been increased drastically, with a 47% increase in spending for maintenance, restoration and conservation work over the previous year.

Following the surplus distribution in subsidies to church entities, a €31,000 marginal loss was registered in 2019.

Asked which of the Church’s sectors will be hardest hit by the pandemic, Pace Ross said it will be digging into past surpluses to ensure that the clergy’s pastoral mission is fulfilled.  “COVID-19 did not slow down our pastoral mission, but rather increased its need in the community,” he said.

Pace Ross also said the Church will be appealing for more public funding and government help.