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VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis has ordered cardinals to take a 10 per cent pay cut and reduced the salaries of other clerics working in the Vatican in order to save jobs of employees as the coronavirus pandemic has hit the Holy See’s income.

The Vatican said on Wednesday (Mar 24) that Pope Francis issued a decree introducing proportional cuts starting on April 1. A spokesman said lower-level lay employees would not be affected by the cuts. Francis has often insisted that he does not want to fire people.

Cardinals who work at the Vatican and live there or in Rome are believed to get salaries of about 4,000-5,000 euros (US$5,900) a month, many in large apartments at well below market rents.

Other department heads, mostly clerics, will see their salaries reduced by between 3 and 8 per cent. Programmed pay rises will be suspended until March 2023. The provisions will also apply to senior staff of other papal basilicas besides St Peter’s in the Vatican.

The Holy See, the central administrative body of the worldwide Catholic Church, may have to use 40 million euros in reserves for the second straight year as the COVID-19 pandemic burns through its finances, the Vatican’s top economic official said earlier this month.

It expects a deficit of about 50 million euros (US$59.77 million) this year. The pandemic has forced the Vatican Museums, a traditional cash cow, to close for much of the last 15 months. 

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