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Pope Francis Trims Cardinals’ Salaries by 10% to Save Money

Cardinals gathered in St. Peter's Basilica for a consistory, Nov. 4, 2012. / Lewis Ashton Glancy/CNA.

Pope Francis issued a letter Wednesday cutting the salaries of some Vatican employees as a way to contain costs after the institution’s budget projected a deficit of $60 million in 2021.

The pope said that cardinals paid by the Vatican would have their salaries cut by 10%. According to Italian media, the cardinals in the Roman Curia receive a monthly stipend of around $6,000 from the Holy See.

The pay of other high-ranking officials and employees of the Holy See and Vatican City State will also be reduced by 8%, and some clergy and religious employed by the Vatican will see their salaries lowered by 3%.

Raises, which occur automatically every two years, will also be suspended for some Holy See officials and Vatican employees until March 31, 2023, the pope decreed.

The measures, which also apply to the Vicariate of Rome, the papal basilicas, and other entities connected to the Vatican, will go into effect April 1.

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In his March 23 apostolic letter, Pope Francis said that these actions were necessary for an “economically sustainable future” at the Vatican.

The pope said that the decision to reduce some salaries was made due to the ongoing deficit at the Holy See, which has been worsened by the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on some of the Vatican’s revenue sources,

One of the main sources of income for the Holy See is the Vatican Museums, which was forced to close for a large part of 2020 and the beginning of 2021.

Personnel costs are the Vatican’s top expenditure after operating costs. Published earlier this month, the Holy See’s 2021 budget said that $165 million out of total expenses of $376 million had been allocated for paychecks. These numbers, however, do not include the budget of the Vatican City State and related entities, like the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), commonly known as the Vatican bank.

The pope’s March 24 decree said that reducing some salaries of the Holy See and Vatican City State was necessary “to ensure sustainability and the balance between income and expenditure.”

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He also said that the measures were intended to prevent the need to cut jobs.

Pope Francis has often reiterated his commitment to not ending employment, especially for lay employees, at the Vatican.

He has also been vocal about the dignity of work and the need for just wages.

In a March 12 interview with Vatican News,  Fr. Juan A. Guerrero S.J., the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, said the cost of the Vatican’s personnel increased by 2% from 2019 to 2020.

“The protection of jobs and wages has been a priority for us so far,” he said. “Pope Francis insists that saving money does not have to mean firing employees, he is very sensitive to the situation of families.”

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