As part of the reform of the Curia, a meeting of the heads of dicasteries was held on September 20, 2019 at the Vatican, to address economic issues in the context of diminishing financial resources. What are considered to be exorbitant salaries of certain external actors were at the heart of the discussions.
The Council of Cardinals (C6), after having participated the day before in another meeting on the reform of the Curia –the dragon of the present pontificacy—Cardinal Reinhard Marx presided over the September 20 meeting of the various heads of dicasteries dedicated to the financial management of the Vatican City governorate.
“It is a question of improving financial transparency, especially of the different dicasteries, in the context of diminishing resources. An awareness is necessary as we must learn to make do with less income and thus reduce costs and take long-term view,” a Vatican finance officer explained to the newspaper La Croix.
It should be said that the indicators are in the red: in 2018 the smallest state in the world has recorded a deficit of about 70 million euros on a budget of 300 million. The September 20 meeting must have been rough, if we believe Fabio Marchese Ragona’s story in Il Giornale.
While the image of extravagant and reluctant-to-reform prelates continues to circulate, even in the Vatican, Cardinal Marx, followed by several others, pointed to what he considers to be the real cause of the deficit. “One the main problems is the salary of certain laymen outside the scale, who earn more than 15,000 euros per month,” and more specifically, “the arrival of civil society external consultants, who are in charge of the Holy See, who earn much more than us, cardinals, sometimes without having the required skills.”
In fact, one of the main expenses of Vatican City is the salaries of about 5,000 employees. While the majority of them receive an average or even modest salary, this is not the case for a few specialists working mainly in the economic institutions linked to the Holy See or in communications, who enjoy substantial salaries comparable to those of large, private sector companies.
Il Giornale related a comical event in recent weeks: the Governorate of Vatican City, in order to save a few hundred euros a month, decided to terminate the employment contract by which a Sunday elevator service was provided by two technicians responsible for the apostolic palaces’ elevators.
Unfortunately, last September 1, the Sovereign Pontiff was trapped in one of the elevators for 25 minutes when he was going to the Sunday Angelus. As no employee was present, firefighters had to urgently call in a technician to help them bring the elevator back into alignment with the floors of the building.
Similarly, the Vatican governorate has also planned drastic cuts in the area of health. Many employees have protested against the reduction of reimbursements for care, including compulsory vaccinations for their children, which forces them to turn to the Italian National Health Service.
Finally, the cardinals mocked the decision to ban the sale of cigarettes at the Vatican store: “it was at least a assured moneymaker, and they suppressed it,” one of them noted ironically.