The Roman Curia Is Being Put on a Diet

March 31, 2021

In a recently signed decree, Pope Francis is promulgating a series of measures supposed to rein in the expenses of personnel linked to the Holy See. Given the financial crisis affecting the Vatican, the allowances of prelates, clerics, and religious are clearly being revised downwards.

The news could make many in the Vatican cringe: the Cardinals will soon have to tighten their shimmering scarlet-purple facias a notch. The Roman pontiff has just decided, by decree, on a drastic reduction of 10% of their compensation.

“An economically sustainable future requires that today, among other decisions, measures be taken concerning staff salaries,” wrote Pope Francis in a letter in the form of a motu proprio published on March 24, 2021, on the feast of the Archangel St. Gabriel: quite a symbol for the announcement of a general diet, made to all Vatican staff.

The papal decision is motivated by “the deficit that has characterized the economic management of the Holy See for several years,” and by the consequences of the Covid-19 epidemic, “which has adversely affected all sources of revenue for the Holy See and Vatican City State,” specifies the motu proprio.

In order not to lay off staff, expenditures must be more contained: thus, the amount of compensation is reduced. But the decision concerns only religious personnel who exercise a function within the smallest State in the world, and even “according to criteria of proportionality and progressiveness.”

In short, the lower down one’s position, the less one will be affected by the measure. If the salary paid to Cardinals are reduced by ten per cent (10%) “compared to the last salary paid,” the religious classified in the levels of remuneration C1 and C2 - in other words heads, secretaries, and under-secretaries of dicasteries - will see their allowances drop “only” by 8%. For lower positions, the reduction is set at 3%.

Provisions that will not apply “if the person concerned provides evidence that he cannot meet fixed expenses related to his own health or that of relatives up to the second degree.”

The new directives are not confined to the sole perimeter of the Leonine enclosure, but they also concern all religious personnel working in the Vicariate of Rome, in the four great major basilicas, as well as at St. Peter’s Fabric.

Is there a touch of playfulness on the part of the host of Martha’s House? The cardinals’ diet comes into force on April 1, 2021.