High Cathedral of Paderborn © Olga Koverninska (shutterstock)
The sum also "surprised" Vicar General Alfons Hardt. The Archbishop's See of Paderborn and six other foundations have assets of 2.65 billion euros.
Journalists have been waiting for this figure for several years now. When the archdiocese of Paderborn first published its assets in 2015 and spoke at the time of around 4 billion euros, there was still one piece of info missing – namely, about the pot of the archbishop's chair. This is the legal entity that is directly assigned to the archbishop, and which has been receiving funds for centuries, primarily from donations and bequests.
That in the catholic Westphalia there is to be expected a lot, proves the financial report published on Tuesday for the first time over the archbishop's chair. 2.65 billion euros, including six other foundations. Plus the archdiocese's assets of now around 4.5 billion euros, Paderborn thus has a total capital of 7.15 billion euros.
Paderborn is ahead of Munich-Freising and Cologne
This makes the archdiocese the front-runner in Germany – ahead of Munich-Freising with 6.1 billion euros and Cologne with 3.8 billion euros. Even though the balance sheet was compiled according to the rules of the German Commercial Code, church officials emphasize that it is not a question of a corporate balance sheet, but of financing pastoral care, Caritas, education and culture. It was the financial scandal in the diocese of Limburg that led to the fact that, in the interest of transparency, the figures were and are gradually being published.
The archiepiscopal chair took some time to do the math. In 2000, under the then Archbishop Johannes Joachim Degenhardt, the first structuring of the assets took place in three different accounting areas. This was then adapted to social requirements in the more recent past and cast into a new form in 2018: The Archbishop's Chair Foundation and six other foundations are to use their investment income to promote precisely defined tasks – such as social or cultural projects. A new board of trustees monitors funding practices and approves applications.
Foundations must not touch capital
Vicar General Alfons Hardt lets it be known that he himself was "surprised" by the total sum. The archdiocese has "a solid financial basis". With their investment income, the foundations supplemented the possibilities of the archdiocese, which in the future can expect less in church tax revenue because of the declining number of church members or the Corona consequences.
At the same time, the vicar general emphasized that the foundations may only spend their interest income and may not touch the capital under any circumstances, because "otherwise the foundations will be empty at some point". A particular problem in the current low-interest phase is maintaining the value of the assets, which is why a large part of the income flows into the so-called capital reserve.
Payment of abuse victims
The actual Archbishop's Chair has assets of around 177 million euros. Expenses include upkeep of Archbishop Hans-Josef Becker's official residence, but also support for a youth residential group in Dortmund.
In the future, the archbishop's chair will also provide the solution to an internal church dispute: payments to victims of abuse. Representatives of lay organizations are opposed to church taxpayers paying compensation for clergy sexual assaults. In Paderborn, the Archbishop's Chair will take over this. 550 already paid out.000 euros from the budget of the archdiocese will be reimbursed.
New transparency, clear funding guidelines
The largest of the foundations is the one named Saint Kilian – one of the diocesan patrons – with assets of 663 million euros. In the future, it is to focus on charitable projects that otherwise receive no funding. The smallest foundation, Bishop Meinwerk with 249 million euros, promotes science. As the sponsor of the Paderborn Faculty of Theology with 56 employees, the Dietrich IV Foundation has the right to take action against anti-Semitic propaganda. von Furstenberg to play a central role.
With the foundation structure now found, the archdiocese has initiated a change in policy, according to Hardt and Andreas Kroeger, executive director of the archbishop's chair. He added that a new transparency with clear funding guidelines would now allow the public to approach the foundations and submit applications.