Disgruntled Vatican employees pen letter to Pope Francis

Disgruntled Vatican employees

A group of disgruntled Vatican employees has written a letter to Pope Francis, expressing their discontent over what they say are labour injustices at the Vatican.

When Pope Francis decided to cut the pay of Vatican employees, lay and religious, in late March, it was mostly welcomed as a positive effort to rein in the institution’s struggling finances.

According to the Vatican’s budget for 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic has put further strain on its finances, risking a deficit of $60 million. Mismanagement and corruption have undercut the Vatican’s financial stability and reputation worldwide for decades.

Pope Francis’ reform efforts have attempted to reduce the economic hemorrhage. This has been compounded by dwindling donations from the faithful and months of closure for the institution’s biggest moneymaker, the Vatican Museums.

The March 24 papal decree cut the pay of Vatican cardinals by 10% and decreased salaries for the heads of Vatican departments and secretaries by 8%. This was actioned “according to criteria of proportionality and progressivity.” Also, all seniority-linked salary raises were blocked until 2023.

The papal decision was made in an effort to “safeguard existing jobs.”

But for the disgruntled Vatican employees, the decision unfairly targets lay employees with seniority who have been financially struggling due to the pandemic.

Francis’ document, they wrote, together with the increased level of work responsibility and the lack of options for working remotely, “only aggravate the working conditions of Vatican employees.”

“We cannot fail, Your Holiness, to mention the concept of ‘just reward’ which is spoken of in the Gospel of Matthew,” they continue. “How much more will we have to sacrifice to pay for a budget deficit that certainly doesn’t derive from our wrongdoing?”

The letters writers also resent what they say are exceptionally high wages and perks given to “lay managers.”

The lay managers contracts “arouse amazement” for their high salaries, some as much as €25,000 ($30,565 U.S.) a month. They add that these lay managers “can count on a number of exceptional benefits,” including rent-free Vatican-owned apartments, as well as “cars for private use, discounts on purchases, dedicated secretaries, and the reimbursement of various expenses.”

The letter’s authors conclude by calling for the creation of a “more encouraging and less punitive system for Vatican employees.” They also suggest having a “serious reflection” on creating a human resources department and the “implementation of structural reform.”

The letter’s authors write in closing: “Certain of your understanding and allowing us to propose that a small delegation of us meet you, we avail ourselves of the opportunity to confirm a sense of deep esteem.”


National Catholic Register

Washington Post

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