IN February this year, Team Francis brought the Pope grim tidings: God was a woman of colour and a lesbian to boot. Just kidding. The really bad news was that the COVID-19 pandemic is costing the Vatican millions in lost earnings.
According to Religion News Service (RNS), the Secretariat for the Economy – a Vatican agency created by Pope Francis to oversee financial operations – indicated in its 2021 budget that the Holy See was on course to lose more than $60-million.
Expenses for the city-state this year are expected to reach almost $376 million, while revenues lag behind at just above $316 million.
The Vatican said at the time that its finances were “heavily impacted by the economic crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” which shrank donations and closed the high-earning Vatican museums for months.
Yesterday, RNS reported that the Pope’s efforts to build a “poor church for the poor” got a little closer to becoming a reality when he issued pay cuts for Vatican clergy and employees.
In a decree, or motu proprio, he decreased the salary of Vatican cardinals by 10 percent.
(In 2019 Francis created 13 new cardinals, giving each of them some ostentatious bling along with their red hats.)
The heads of Vatican departments and secretaries will have their salaries reduced by eight percent, while the wages for priests will be decreased by three percent.
Cardinals who work in the offices and departments that make up the Roman Curia are paid between $5,300 and $6,000 a month. Other cardinals’ and bishops’ salaries are regulated by the local dioceses and can vary greatly, depending on the country.
The Pope himself does not receive a salary. As a Jesuit,Francis took a vow of poverty, which means that he may not receive a fixed income. Pontiffs can rely on Peter’s Pence, a global fund of donations by Catholic faithful, to finance their charitable works.
The new measures will be applied indefinitely, starting on April Fools’ Day.
All seniority-linked salary raises have been blocked until 2023, the Vatican document states.
The Pope’s pay cuts will be made “according to criteria of proportionality and progressivity,” the Vatican statement reads, with the highest reductions impacting senior and high-ranking officials.
The Vatican finances rely largely on donations from the faithful and tourists from all over the world visiting the renowned Vatican Museums. The COVID-19 pandemic, which left the museums empty and donations dwindling, added further strain to the already depleted Vatican finances, with no signs of economic recovery in 2021.
The decision to cut salaries was done with the goal of “safeguarding existing jobs,” without resorting to firing employees, according to the decree.
The new measures are a response to “the deficit that has characterized the economic management of the Holy See for several years” and the economic consequences of the pandemic:
Which negatively impacted all sources of revenue in the Holy See and Vatican City State.
RNS said that the Vatican has not been particularly forthcoming with the state of its finances in the past, but its 2021 budget was released:
With the objective of providing more visibility and transparency to the economic transactions of the Holy See.
Or, more likely, to get the faithful to help bail it out.
There is some cynicism in the comments below the RNS report.
“No Religion” wrote:
Fewer costly courtiers at the pricey papal court. Could this be the Vatican trying to catch up to the twentieth century?
Jim Johnson said:
A vow of poverty for the man wearing fine silks with gold threads surrounded by luxury and priceless pieces of art. Yeah, just like Jesus. Jesus did have a quality seamless undergarment but that’s about it.
And “Patrick” chipped in with:
The Vatican short of money? barf, choke, puke, vomit. The largest landholder in the world –the greatest art collection in the world –the greatest palace in the world. Over 1,000,000,000 members to fleece – and it’s short of money? Dio Mio …