Pope John Pau II, a stock picker? While it may be hard to imagine the Pontiff poring over the daily stock tables, a higher power appears to be guiding the Vatican's investments.

The Holy See, the home of the Pope, said Friday that it had posted its eighth straight year in the black, thanks to some shrewd investment decisions and a good currency exchange rate.

"We didn't fall into the trap of the new economy," Associated Press quoted the Vatican's economic chief Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani.

Leading up to 1993, the Vatican went through 23 years of losing money. Things turned around when the bishops from around the world started directly assisting the Vatican.

Sebastiani said the Holy See doesn't invest in companies that "clash with Catholic moral teaching."

The Vatican posted a gain for 2000 of $8.5 million US, on costs of $194.5 million US and revenues of $203 million US.

At a news conference, Sebastiani said that the Pontiff does get paid a yearly salary, but the Cardinal said he did not know how much the head of the Roman Catholic is paid.

Vatican soureces said John Paul II gives away almost all of his money to charities, churches and relief groups.