Pope Francis issued a decree on Wednesday (24), introducing cuts to the salaries of Vatican cardinals and clergy to avoid layoffs due to the worsening economic crisis following the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision was announced by the consulting firm Santa Fé. The reduction – which is proportional and will reduce the salary of cardinals by 10%, for example – will go into effect on April 1, but will not affect most lay employees (those who do holy orders), according to the spokesperson.
Francisco, 84, has always insisted he doesn’t want to fire people in tough economic times, even when the Vatican continues to run deficits.
Cardinals who work in the Vatican or Rome are estimated to receive salaries between 4,000 and 5,000 euros (R $ 26,000 and R $ 33,000) per month, and many live in apartments with rents well below the market. .
Most priests and nuns who work in Vatican departments live in religious communities in Rome, such as seminaries, convents, parishes, universities and schools, which gives them greater protection against crises. economic.
Their cost of living is much lower than that of non-professional employees such as police, doormen, firefighters, cleaners and art restorers, who most often live in Rome and have families.
And it is this group that the pontiff seems to want to protect, since most of these jobs were not in the papal decree. In addition to the cardinals, other members of the clergy will see their salaries drop between 3% and 8%.
Planned salary increases for everyone except the three lowest salary levels will be suspended until March 2023.
The Vatican’s top economic official said earlier this month that the Holy See, the central administrative body of the Catholic Church, may have to use 40 million euros ($ 265 million) in reserves for the second year in a row due to the pandemic.
The agency expects a deficit of around 50 million euros (332 million reais) this year. Revenue is expected to be around 213 million euros (1.4 billion reais) in 2021, a decrease of 30% from 2020.
The Vatican Museums – which include the famous Sistine Chapel and received around 6 million paying visitors in 2019 – and St. Peter’s Basilica have been closed or only partially open due to the pandemic. It was the longest period of closure since World War II.
The museums are due to reopen this month, but will have to go unvisited due to a new blockade imposed by the Italian government.