As Coronavirus Hits Vatican Revenue, Pope Cuts Pay for High-Ranking Clerics

As Coronavirus Hits Vatican Revenue, Pope Cuts Pay for High-Ranking Clerics

As Coronavirus Hits Vatican Revenue, Pope Cuts Pay for High-Ranking Clerics

As Coronavirus Hits Vatican Revenue, Pope Cuts Pay for High-Ranking Clerics

ROME — In an effort to contain costs and save jobs amid a slump in tourist dollars and donations as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis has ordered across-the-board pay cuts for the cardinals and other higher-ranking clerics working in the Vatican.

Cardinals will see their income trimmed by 10 percent, according to a decree published Wednesday. The superiors of Vatican departments will have their salaries reduced by 8 percent, while 3 percent cuts will be applied to upper-level priests and nuns. A two-year salary freeze has been imposed on other employees at higher pay grades.

The pandemic has “negatively influenced all sources of income for the Holy See and Vatican City State,” Francis wrote in an apostolic letter. “A sustainable economic future requires today, among other decisions, adopting measures that also concern employee salaries.”

The cuts, which go into effect on April 1, affect only the employees of the Holy See, Vatican City and associated institutions, including the Vicariate of Rome. They will not apply to Vatican personnel who can prove that they cannot sustain the costs of personal medical care or that of close family members.

Of the roughly 5,000 people employed in the Roman Curia, the administrative institutions of the Holy See, and in Vatican City State, cardinals have the highest monthly salaries, varying between 4,000 to 5,000 euros, or about $4,700 to $5,900, according to Mimmo Muolo, the author of the 2019 book “The Church’s Money.” The Vatican does not make salaries of officials public.

The pope will not be affected by the cuts because he does not receive a salary. “As an absolute monarch he has everything at his disposal and nothing at his disposal,” Mr. Muolo said. “He doesn’t need an income because he has everything that he needs.”

Working at the Vatican offers perks, with many employees living in Vatican-owned housing and paying well below market rates.

The economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic has “heavily impacted” revenues, the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy wrote in a note in February.

The 2021 budget approved by Francis projected a deficit of 49.7 million euros, even though operating costs had been slashed by 24 million euros as compared with 2019, the year before the pandemic. Personnel expenses account for about half of the budget.

The Rev. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, the Vatican’s top economic official, said this month that revenue was expected to be about 213 million euros in 2021, a 30 percent reduction from 2019.

“The crisis caused by the pandemic is the cause of this restrictive budget,” Father Guerrero Alves said in an interview with the Vatican’s news portal two weeks ago. He said that cost-cutting had reduced travel, overtime and meeting expenses and had led to the postponement of renovations and some purchases. But the Vatican has not cut jobs.

“Pope Francis insists that saving money does not have to mean laying off employees; he is very sensitive to the plight of families,” he said.

The Holy See’s income comes from real estate management, investments and donations. Vatican City State has a separate budget and gets part of its revenue from the Vatican Museums, which had 6.7 million visitors in 2019, according to The Art Newspaper. The museums were open on and off last year because of the pandemic. Of the 1.3 million visitors last year, a million came before the national lockdown started in early March 2020.

“The expenses budgeted for 2021 are the lowest in the recent history of the Holy See, but the savings have been made without decreasing the service to the pope’s mission and defending salaries and jobs for employees,” Father Guerrero Alves said. “We need the support of the faithful.”


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