The Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See is the office of the Roman Curia that deals with the "provisions owned by the Holy See in order to provide the funds necessary for the Roman Curia to function". It was established by Pope Paul VI on 15 August 1967 and reorganized on 8 July 2014. APSA acts as the Treasury and central bank of Vatican City and the Holy See.
Both before and after the reorganization of its functions in 2014, APSA has been distinct from the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
The assets entrusted to the administration (previously in the care of what was its Extraordinary Section) were initially 750 million Italian lire (at that time equivalent to 8,152,000 pounds sterling) in cash and 1000 million Italian lire (at that time equivalent to 10,869,000 pounds sterling) in Italian State bonds, an amount less than Italy would have paid under the Law of Guarantees of 1871, if the Holy See had accepted this. A 2012 report from the Council of Europe identified the value of a section of the Vatican's property assets as an amount in excess of €680m (£570m); as of January 2013, a papal official in Rome named Paolo Mennini manages this portion of the Holy See's assets—consisting of British investments, other European holdings and a currency trading arm. The Guardian described Mennini as "in effect the pope's merchant banker [who] heads a special unit inside the Vatican called the extraordinary division of APSA – Amministrazione del Patrimonio della Sede Apostolica – which handles the so-called 'patrimony of the Holy See'.
Pope Paul VI established APSA as part of his broader reform of the Roman Curia in the apostolic constitution Regimini Ecclesiae universae issued on 15 August 1967. It is the latest in a series of bodies first established in 1878 and subject to periodic modifications in name and remit.
APSA was composed originally of two sections:
The Ordinary Section continued the work of the Administration of the Property of the Holy See, a commission that Pope Leo XIII set up in 1880, initially as an advisory body, and to which in 1891 he gave direct responsibility for administering the property remaining to the Holy See after the complete loss of the Papal States in 1870.
The Extraordinary Section administers the funds given by the Italian government to implement the Financial Convention attached to the Lateran Treaty of 1929. Before the establishment of the APSA, these latter funds were managed by the Special Administration of the Holy See. After World War II, the International Monetary Fund recognized the Administration of the Property of the Holy See, as the central bank of Vatican City.
On 9 July 2014, the Ordinary Section of APSA was transferred to the Secretariat for the Economy. Only the Extraordinary Section remained within the purview of APSA. Since then APSA focuses exclusively on its role as a Treasury for the Holy See and the Vatican City State.
Although Pope John Paul II's apostolic constitution Pastor Bonus specified that APSA is headed by a prelate with the rank of cardinal, the custom of giving the president of APSA the temporary title of "Pro-President" in anticipation of his becoming a cardinal has falling into disuse; Pope John Paul and his successors have all given the title of President to prelates who were not yet cardinals.