You cannot serve God and mammon, but Peter Sutherland is giving it a try. The Irish lawyer, politician, businessman and investment banker is the new financial adviser to Pope Benedict XVI. Named in December as "consultor of the Extraordinary Section of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See," Sutherland is better known as the founding director-general of the World Trade Organization, as well as the current chairman of both investment bank Goldman Sachs International and oil company BP. At the Vatican he will advise the Roman Curia pro bono on how to manage Vatican City's annual budget of E250 million ($329 million).
Neither the Vatican nor Sutherland will comment on the appointment, but Sutherland is likely to be charged with revamping the Holy See's stodgy securities portfolio, whose value is a closely guarded secret. The Vatican does reveal that the portfolio is 80 percent invested in low-yielding bonds, with only 20 percent devoted to stocks.
In 2005, the latest period for which data is available, the Vatican reported its second annual budget surplus in a row -- E9.7 million -- following four years of deficits. But to stay in the black in the face of rising personnel costs, and to support money-losing ventures such as Vatican Radio and daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Benedict will need Sutherland to goose investment returns.