Pope, citing pandemic effect, cuts pay for cardinals, others

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FILE – Cardinals listen as Pope Francis, background, delivers his Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia, in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. Pope Francis has ordered pay cuts for Holy See employees, including slashing cardinals’ salaries by 10%. Francis in a letter made public by the Vatican on Wednesday, March 24, 2021, noted that the pandemic emergency “negatively impacted all sources of revenue” for the Holy See and Vatican City State. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Trying to save jobs as the pandemic pummels Vatican revenues, Pope Francis has ordered pay cuts for cardinals and other clerics, including priests and nuns, who work at the Holy See.

In a decree published online Wednesday by the Vatican’s official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Francis said that starting in April cardinals’ salaries will be reduced 10%. Superiors of the Holy See’s various departments will be hit by 8% cuts while lower-ranking priests and nuns will see 3% vanish from their paychecks.

In the decree he signed on Tuesday, the pope noted that the Holy See’s finances have been marked by several years of deficit. Worsening those financial woes, the pope wrote, was the COVID-19 pandemic, “which has impacted negatively on all the sources of revenue of the Holy See and Vatican City State.”

The belt-tightening “has the aim of saving current job positions,” Francis wrote.

Bans on tourism by many countries and other pandemic restrictions have severely reduced revenues at the Vatican Museums, which, with its Sistine Chapel, is a perennial money-maker for the Vatican,

The Museums opened for some weeks during the pandemic when the situation in Italy improved. But with tourists from the United States and some other countries banned, the museums’ cavernous rooms were eerily uncrowded in the pandemic.

The Museums are currently closed and will stay closed at least through the upcoming Holy Week, which normally is one of Rome’s heaviest periods for tourism.

Earlier this month, the Vatican said it has nearly used up its financial reserves from past donations to cover budget deficits over recent years. It has predicted a 50-million-euro ($60 million) deficit for this year.

Pandemic safety measures have seen many churches shuttered or limiting the number of faithful — many of whom leave monetary donations during services — who can enter.

The Vatican’s economy minister has said that the dwindled Museums revenue, as well as a drop in what Catholics donate, would contribute to a projected 30% reduction in revenue this year.

The pay cuts also apply to several Vatican basilicas in Rome as well as to the Vicariate, or diocese of Rome, which is under the pope’s direction.

Cardinals, other clerics and well as nuns in Rome generally don’t have expenses most lay people have, like market-value rents or mortgages, utility and heating bills, since many reside in housing owned by the Vatican or religious orders. Some cardinals have spacious, well-appointed apartments in historic palazzi in Rome.

In any case, Francis noted, the salary reductions won’t apply to anyone who can document that the cuts will make it “impossible to meet fixed expenses related to their health conditions or those of their relatives.”

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