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The Vatican, having had a rough stretch financially, is back above water, though apparently donations from the faithful are down from last year:

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Vatican officials believed the main reasons for the decrease were related to the lingering effects of the financial crisis on Catholics’ ability to donate, and the fact that two donations of a few million dollars apiece from individuals in 2009 weren’t repeated in 2010.

The abuse scandal also erupted in 2010 in Europe, traditionally a top source of donations after the U.S. Tens of thousands of people have either formally or informally left the Catholic Church in the wake of reports that priests sexually abused thousands of young people and bishops covered up the crimes.

In Austria alone, the number of Catholics who officially left the church in 2010 was 87,000 – a 64 percent increase over the 53,000 who formally had their names struck from church registries in 2009. Such numbers are easily tracked because members pay a church tax unless they formally leave the congregation. Pope Benedict XVI’s native Germany, which also levies a church tax on members, has also seen thousands of people formally quit.

More important here is the negative effect institutions, including corporations, can have on members when there is a lack of accountability, no means for democratic oversight from the people at large. Effectively insulating pedophiles has harmed the Catholic Church’s reputation and its fundraising, but it has harmed that institution’s adherents even more. [Associated Press]

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