VATICAN CITY — In an austerity move like those being taken by governments around the world, the Vatican will not pay its employees a bonus marking the March 13 election of Pope Francis but will instead make a donation to charity.
"In the past, on the occasion of the start of a pontificate, a bonus was granted to Vatican employees," Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters April 19. "In the present case, given the difficult economic situation in general, it seemed neither possible nor opportune to burden the budgets of Vatican offices with a considerable, extraordinary and unexpected expense.
"Instead, the Holy Father has decided to make a donation to some charitable organizations, drawing on funds available for the charity of the pope, as a sign of concern for the many persons in difficulty," Father Lombardi said.
In 2007, Vatican employees received the equivalent of $655 at the current exchange rate in celebration of Pope Benedict XVI's 80th birthday. Two years earlier, they received $1,965 after the funeral of Blessed John Paul II and the election of his successor. But no bonus was paid in 2012 when Pope Benedict turned 85.
The Holy See, which employs about 2,800 people, reported a deficit of $19.4 million for 2011.The commission governing Vatican City State, which employs about 1,900 people, reported a surplus of $28.4 million for the same period. The surplus was largely attributed to revenues from the Vatican Museums.
Since his election, Pope Francis has said that he wants a "poor church, for the poor," and discouraged Argentines from traveling to Rome for his Mass of inauguration, suggesting that they donate the cost of the trip to charity instead.