The Vatican’s cultural activities, particularly its museums, helped boost profits by almost double at the Vatican city-state past year, while the budget to run the Roman Curia continued to show a deficit.

“We have discovered that the (Vatican’s financial) situation is much healthier than it seemed”, he told Britain’s Catholic Herald – although a papal spokesman insisted Pell did not describe money as “illegal, illicit or badly administered”.

Meanwhile, the Holy See, which governs the universal church, reported a 5 percent increase in its deficit to 25.6 million euros ($28 million), up from 24.5 million euros a year earlier, as the Holy See transitioned to global accounting standards.

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican had more than $1.2 billion (1.1 billion euro) in assets off the books before an accounting cleanup previous year, the Holy See said Thursday (July 16) in announcing its financial statements for 2014. The statements were prepared by the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, the Vatican’s budget management office.

The new reporting and budgeting practices made it hard to compare figures with past years, the Vatican statement said.

At the Council for the Economy meeting on 14 July 2015, Cardinal Pell and the staff from the Secretariat for the Economy presented the Consolidated Statements for the Holy See and the Financial Statements for the Governatorato.

External auditors had ensured that “consistent with sound audit practice, amounts could be independently verified”.

The former accounting principles and consolidation perimeter (comprising 64 Holy See entities) were used in preparation of the 2014 Statements. This made direct comparison with 2013 figures hard.

If the standards of 2014 were applied to the previous year, there would have been a deficit of 37.2 million euros in 2013, the statement said.

The journey of transition to new policies is progressing well and the Secretariat was pleased to report high levels of interest and cooperation in the entities. The reduced deficient for 2014, it said, was “largely due to favorable movements in investments held by the Holy See”.

The number of employees stayed relatively the same at 2,880 with total personnel costs being 126.6 million euros, an increase of more than 1 million euros from 2013.

The largest single item in the Holy See budget was “personnel”. The Vatican said the statement revealed “the first important steps” taken by Cardinal Pell.

While rapid progress is being made in implementing reforms requested by the Holy Father, the complete transition to the IPSAS is likely to take several years.