Pope Francis has ordered a 10 per cent pay cut for cardinals along with a reduction in salaries of senior priests and religious working in the Vatican in order to save jobs of employees as the Covid pandemic hit the Holy See’s income.
Francis has insisted he does not want to fire any staff in difficult economic times, even as the Holy See faces a €50 million deficit in 2021. Income has been hit by a slow-down in tourism, while the revenue-generating Vatican Museums has been closed for large parts of the year.
Cardinals who work for the Vatican or are resident in Rome are believed to get salaries of about €4,000 to €5,000 a month although many live in large apartments at well-below market rents and have living costs that are much lower than the average lay employee. Many priests and religious who work in the Vatican are also able to live in religious houses or seminaries giving them greater protection from the economic shocks caused by the pandemic. His ruling does not concern the lower paid lay workers employed as police, firefighters, cleaners or ushers.
“You are the most important thing here. No one is to left out, no one will lose their jobs,” the Pope told Vatican employees before Christmas, while Fr Juan Antonio Guerrero, the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy said Francis “insists that saving money does not have to mean laying off employees; he is very sensitive to the plight of families”.
Apart from the cardinals, other priests and religious will see their salaries reduced by between 3 per cent and 8 per cent. Planned pay rises for all but the three lowest pay grades will be suspended until March 2023.
To pay its deficit, the Holy See will draw on reserves and has been trying to reduce administrative costs. Income for the Holy See in 2021 is forecast at €213 million, down 30 per cent from 2019. The Holy See’s budget covers the departments of the Roman Curia, its embassies across the world and communications work. The Vatican City State, which includes the museums and the Vatican bank, has a separate budget, although income from both the museums and the bank are transferred to the Holy See to help reduce deficits.