VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has ordered cardinals to cut wages by 10 percent and lower the salaries of most of the other clergy working in the Vatican to save white-collar jobs as the coronavirus pandemic has affected Holy See incomes.
The Vatican said Wednesday that from April 1, Francis had issued a decree introducing proportional cuts. A spokesman said most lay people would not be affected by the cuts.
A senior Vatican prelate said it was the first time in living memory that a Pope took such action.
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The 84-year-old Francis from a working-class family has often insisted that he does not want to fire people in difficult economic times, even if the Vatican continues to show deficits.
Cardinals who work and live in the Vatican or in Rome are believed to earn salaries of around 4,000 to 5,000 euros ($ 4,730 to 5,915) a month, and many live in large apartments that are well below market rents .
Most of the priests and nuns who work in Vatican departments live in religious communities in Rome, such as seminaries, monasteries, parishes, universities, and schools, which offer them better protection from economic downturns.
They have much lower costs of living than lay people – such as the police, ushers, firefighters, cleaners, art restorers, and maintenance staff – who live in Rome, many of whom have families.
The Vatican’s top business official said earlier this month that the Holy See, the central governing body of the worldwide Catholic Church, may have to use € 40 million in reserves for the second year in a row as the Covid-19 pandemic burns its finances plugged.
For this year a deficit of around 50 million euros is expected. Sales are expected to be around 213 million euros in 2021, a decrease of 30 percent compared to 2020.
St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, the latter a money cow that received around 6 million paying visitors in 2019, were closed or only partially open for much of 2020 due to the pandemic. The museums were slated to reopen this month but remained closed due to a new lockdown by Italy.