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Germany’s richest diocese has greater assets than the Vatican

Cologne: richer than Rome (PA)

A diocese in Germany has greater assets than the Vatican, it has been revealed.

Cologne diocese published its 2013 accounts yesterday, the fourth of Germany’s 27 bishoprics to present an annual financial balance.

Cologne general-vicar Stefan Hesse presented the figures, showing that it has assets of €3.35 billion (£2.45 billion), which compares with Vatican assets of £2 billion.

More than two-thirds of Cologne’s assets are held in investments, including two housing companies owning 24,000 flats, some for low earners. Fr Hasse also said the income, mostly from the country’s church tax, was also used to help refugees and the homeless. The diocese also has real estate, including schools, seminaries and conference centres, worth £500m, in an area covering two million Catholics.

The German Church is hugely wealthy because registered Catholics must pay a share of their income tax towards the Church under a long-standing agreement dating back to the 19th century. In 2013, the Catholic Church in Germany received almost €5.5 billion (£4.6 billion) via the church tax.