Investment: Counting Peter's Pence

Despite its pious title, the Institute for Religious Works in Rome is much less interested in theology than in economics. It is the Vatican's bank for investing the resources of Roman Catholic religious orders and charities from many parts of the world. Set up by Pope Pius XII 27 years ago, the institute manages a sizable portion of the Holy See's vast securities portfolio. Its guiding principle is the maxim that 1,000 lire sown today can reap 10,000 for charity tomorrow.

As the new year began, an American prelate in the Vatican took...

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