Pope Francis has announced a new measure aimed at saving money in the Vatican. Cardinals and other high-level officials will no longer be able to live in Vatican-connected apartments for free or at special prices. This decision comes two years after the Holy Father announced that he was cutting Cardinals' salaries by 10 percent. The move is just one of many changes that have been implemented by Pope Francis to restructure the financial management of the Vatican.
The Vatican has faced significant financial challenges in recent years, and Pope Francis has been vocal about the need for change. Last year, he announced a new apostolic constitution, Predicate Evangelium, which restructured the Roman Curia. Changes to the financial management structures have also been implemented, with the latest Motu Proprio being issued just one week ago. The legal text, "Il diritto nativo," reaffirms that all assets owned by organizations of the Holy See may never be seen as private but public church property at the service of the church.
According to the Secretariat for the Economy, assets have been sold in recent years to avoid a significant deficit. The then-Prefect of the secretariat spoke of more than 20 million missing every year. The Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy reported a deficit of around three million Euros in 2021, but projections had suggested a deficit of more than 30 million Euros. Against a balance sheet of several billions, three million is not a significant amount.
However, a big liability that is looming over the Vatican finances is the pension fund of the Curia. There are commitments of close to a billion Euros, which would not be sustainable in the long term. This problem will only increase when the Vatican looks to hire more lay people into the ranks of the Curia, who will have certain pension and healthcare requirements.
The new measure announced by Pope Francis is aimed at meeting the needs of the Church in an economic context "of particular gravity." According to a note from the new prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, Maximino Caballero Ledo, everyone is being asked to make an extraordinary sacrifice. More resources could then be made available to the mission of the Holy See. Ledo added that it will be necessary to increase revenue from the management of the real estate patrimony.
In conclusion, the Vatican has been facing significant financial challenges in recent years. Pope Francis has implemented a series of changes aimed at restructuring the financial management of the Vatican. The latest measure announced by the Holy Father involves cutting housing perks for Cardinals and Vatican managers, who will no longer be able to live in Vatican-connected apartments for free or at special prices. This move is just one of many changes that have been implemented to ensure the financial sustainability of the Vatican.
Andreas Thonhauser is EWTN Vatican Bureau Chief. He earned a Master of Business Administration from the WU Executive Academy in Vienna and a Master’s degree in German Philology/Anglistics and Americanistics from the University of Vienna. Prior to joining EWTN, Thonhauser worked as the Director of External Affairs for a global human rights organization, and for several media outlets in Vienna, Austria.