The transfer of personnel management from the Secretariat of State to the Secretariat for the Economy has brought a breath of modernity to the Vatican.
Since June 5, 2022, the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium, responsible for implementing the reform of the Curia, has entered into force.
One of its provisions - that which consists in placing the management of Vatican personnel under the rule of the Secretariat for the Economy - would have gone almost unnoticed if the interview with Fr. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves in Vatican News last June 1st had not brought it to light.
From that point, the Jesuit, at the head of the Secretariat for the Economy since 2019, has become the “Human Resource Director (HRD) of the Holy See.” A small revolution within the micro-state since, until now, the management of Vatican employees was one of the – many – prerogatives of the Secretariat of State.
On March 7, in fact, an indiscretion from the general affairs section of the Secretariat of State warned of the creation of a general management department for personnel, an announcement which was to be denied the next day by the Press Office, arguing that this was only a purely working hypothesis issued by the Council of Cardinals.
Three months later, however, the “working hypothesis” was incorporated into the new fundamental law governing the Curia, much to the chagrin of the Secretariat of State.
In fact, the decision of the sovereign pontiff was largely motivated by the progress of the investigation and the trial on the presumed fraudulent investment in a luxury building in London: the opportunity to finally regulate the competences of a Secretariat of State whose autonomy and independence seemed to have shown its limits too clearly.
This is not to mention the fact that the staff of the smallest state in the world had very little appreciation for the circular signed in 2014 by the Secretary of State himself – Cardinal Pietro Parolin – which decreed a hiring and salary freeze, as well as the suppression the €500 bonus, granted to all civil servants when a new pope is elected.
Beyond the transfer of competences to the secretariat he heads, it is a paradigm shift in personnel management that Fr. Guerrero wants. From now on, the time for the “planning” and “management” of personnel has come with one goal in mind: better control of expenses.
The Jesuit evokes the necessary “strengthening of professionalism” and emphasizes the “internal mobility” of employees who will have to “acquire outside expertise,” the Secretariat for the Economy wishing in the future, “to hire collaborators aware of what it means to work for the Holy See.”
From this perspective, the Secretariat for the Economy intends to begin a “consideration of career plans” and set up a “system to evaluate the work of each” employee.
In a few months, Fr. Guerrero might even change the employee compensation system, combining merit bonuses and fixed salaries.