The Vatican was in the red by nearly $64 million last year, its second-largest deficit ever, according to a financial statement issued Saturday by the Holy See.

Church officials who released the document appealed to Roman Catholics to contribute more so that the Vatican could "adequately carry out its pastoral mission."It was the ninth year in a row that the administrative center for the world's 850 million Catholics has operated at a loss.

The deficit will be covered by $50 million from "Peter's Pence," the annual offering from Catholics to the pope, and the rest by reserve funds, a news release said.

The Vatican said its 1987 deficit was 74.6 billion Italian lire, down from a record 76.6 billion a year earlier. Using the 1987 end-of-year exchange rate, the church said the 1987 figure equalled $63.8 million.

The Holy See said it expects its 1988 shortfall to be its largest ever - climbing 3 percent above the 1987 figure - even though it slapped strict controls on spending and has urged more contributions.

The news release said covering the 1988 deficit would be "precarious" because reserve funds had been used to pay 1987 expenses.