Pope challenged to practise labour justice at Vatican

Francis renews sex abuse commission but does not reappoint Kiwi

Some lay workers at the Vatican think Pope Francis should put his own house in order in terms of employment justice before slagging off other bosses.

Last week, Francis condemned employers who exploit workers through temporary contracts or by not offering health insurance.

He called such employers “blood suckers” who turn people into “slaves of labour”.

But several lay workers at the Vatican have told Crux that Francis should consider their own conditions.

“If it was up to Pope Francis, we’d all work for free,” one Vatican employee said.

The Vatican workers spoke to Crux on the condition that they not be identified.

In 2014, the Vatican announced an end to new employee hires and imposed a freeze on wage-increases and overtime in an effort to cut costs and offset budget shortfalls.

It was decided to make much greater use of volunteers.

New lay people are still being hired to work in the Vatican today, but under what are known as “religious contracts”.

These contracts are supposed to be for religious men and women coming to Rome to fulfil a specific task, for a period ranging from 10 months to a year.

Since religious communities normally provide health insurance, pension and benefits, the Vatican doesn’t have to cover them, and doesn’t do so for a lay employee hired under these contracts.

This is the case of many people working today at Vatican Radio, for instance, or the Vatican Museums.

In most cases, the employees add, people under these contracts end up working for many years, with no benefits, no guaranteed vacation days or no health insurance, hoping to eventually see their situation regularised.

The average Vatican employee makes around US$22,000 a year, tax free.

Normal employees can get access to some benefits such as petrol and tax-free shopping.

Italy provides a National Health Service.

The Vatican has a working force of roughly 4600 employees, three quarters of which are lay people.


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