Pope Francis has ordered salary cuts for cardinals and other clerics working in the Vatican as the pandemic hits the city-state’s finances.
In an apostolic letter, the Vatican said the pope issued a decree concerning the pay cuts, effective April 1. Cardinals’ salaries will be reduced by 10%, while priests and other clerics will get between three and eight% reduction from their current salaries.
Salary increase will also be suspended until March 23.
"An economically sustainable future today requires, among other decisions, the adoption of measures concerning staff salaries," the letter read.
The letter also stated that the measures were made “following the health emergency caused by the spread of COVID-19, which negatively affected all sources of income of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.”
The salaries of cardinals working in the Vatican are believed to be between 4,000 and 5,000 euros (about P230,000 and P286,000) a month. Some of them live in the Holy See or in Rome, and many reportedly stay in subsidized apartments or accommodations below market rents.
Many priests and nuns who work in the Vatican live in religious communities in Rome that give them protection from economic slumps according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, lay employees like police, firefighters, cleaners, art restorers and maintenance personnel who live in Rome face higher living expenses.
The salary cuts were reportedly made by the Pope “with the aim of safeguarding current jobs” and to save the livelihood of lay workers. It was said to be the first time that a pope had made such a move.
The pandemic negatively affected many of the Holy See’s sources of income including donations, investments, real estate, museum admissions, and sales of coins, stamps and publications.
Favorite tourist destinations including the St. Peter’s Basilica and Vatican Museums, which saw almost six million paying visitors pre-pandemic, were temporarily shut down or partially open in 2020 because of the pandemic.
Museums were due to reopen in March but with the new lockdown imposed in Italy, they remained closed.