Catholic Transparency

The Book of Revelations

Cologne Cathedral Unkel
The majestic Cologne Cathedral belongs to what is possibly the wealthiest diocese in the world.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The billions owned by the Cologne diocese could spark an international debate about the role the Catholic Church should play in society.

  • Facts


    • The Cologne diocese holds €3.35 billion, or about $3.81 billion, worth of assets, making it possibly the world’s richest diocese.
    • In the town of Limburg, renovations to the residence of former Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst went €25.5 million over budget.
    • The diocese of Mainz showed total assets of €823.3 million for 2013, but it has not yet evaluated some of its real estate.
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When asked why he took the name Francis, the current pope said he was thinking of Francis of Assisi, who extolled the virtues of poverty.

“Oh, how I would like to see a poor church for poor people,” he said, shortly after being elected in 2013.

This is in stark contrast to the 2013 figures released by the archdiocese of Cologne, which has recorded assets of €3.35 billion, or about $3.81 billion, according to its balance sheet.

Cologne, possibly the richest diocese in the world, is the first one in Germany to release a balance sheet, audited according to German commercial code.

Of the total, €2.4 billion is held in financial investments and €612 million in real estate.

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