Pope trims cardinals’ salaries, names nun-economist to key Vatican post

Pope trims cardinals’ salaries, names nun-economist to key Vatican post

Sourced from LaCroix International by Tracy Cabrera

VATICAN CITY, ROME — Beginning on Spy Wednesday, April 1, salaries of cardinals will be reduced by 10 percent, department heads and secretaries of the Church by eight (8) percent and the clergy and religious by three (3) percent even as all church employees will have automatic seniority pay increase frozen until 2023.

This was announced by Pope Francis in two crucial decisions he made prior to Holy Week as the pontiff explained that the Church requires a sustainable economic future and costs must be contained “according to criteria of proportionality and progressivity.”

The pope made the announcement at the beginning of his motu proprio, rationalizing that his decision was done to ensure that employees are not laid off, especially amidst the ongoing coronavirus global pandemic.

The reductions will not, however, affect lay employees with paygrade level four and above and not those with the lowest salaries. Vatican pay grades go from levels 1 to 10 for most employees. It was also announced that the reductions will not be applied in exceptional cases where health expenses are involved.

It added that the measures will be applied also by the Vicariate of Rome, the Chapters of the Papal Basilicas of Saint Peter, Saint John Lateran and Saint Mary Major, The Fabbrica di San Pietro and the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.

The pope’s decision for the reduction of salaries was motivated by “the deficit over the years affecting the financial management of the Holy See” and above all the situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic “that has negatively influenced all sources of income for the Holy See and Vatican City State.”

Media reports say cardinals who work at the Vatican or in Rome get salaries of about 4,000 to 5,000 euros (US$4,730 to US$5,915) a month.

Many priests and nuns who work in the Vatican and live in seminaries, convents, parishes, universities and schools have more protection from economic downturns. Their salaries are much less than lay employees—such as police, ushers, firefighters and cleaners—who live in Rome and may have families.

Francis, who comes from a working-class family in Argentina, has made sure that these lay workers remain protected, as most of their employment levels were not listed in the motu proprio.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis also appointed 46-year-old Italian Salesian Sister Alessandra Smerilli as undersecretary for the ‘faith and development department of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

Sister Smerilli, an economist, is currently a co-coordinator of the Vatican’s Covid-19 Commission. She holds doctorates in economics from the University of Rome (La Sapienza) and the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. She is also an advisor of Vatican City State and a consultor at the Synod of Bishops while teaching political economics at the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences Auxilium, a Rome-based institution run by her religious congregation.

On her appointment by the pope, Smerilli said that “(she) will now strive to bring (her) expertise in the field of economics and the social doctrine of the church to an even more concrete service to the mission of the church and the Holy See.”

“We are going through times of great trial in which the values on which humanity has always been founded are being questioned, in which individuals and families are suffering from a devastating social, political, anthropological, and cultural crisis that the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to exacerbate, and in which reference points are wavering,” she said.

With her appointment, the Vatican now has six female undersecretaries—two services at the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, and one each at the general Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, the Vatican Secretariat of State and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. (AI|MTVN)

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