VATICAN CITY (RNS) Vatican employees won’t receive the special bonus they are traditionally awarded when a new pope is elected, the Vatican confirmed on Thursday (April 18), under orders from Pope Francis to give extra money to charity instead.

pope francis

Pope Francis waves from the pope-mobile during his inauguration Mass at St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday (March 19) at the Vatican. RNS photo by Andrea Sabbadini

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“On account of the difficult situation of the general economy, it seemed neither possible nor opportune to burden Vatican institutions with a considerable unforeseen extraordinary expense,” the Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said in an emailed statement.

In place of the employees’ bonus, Pope Francis ordered Vatican officials to make a donation to some “charitable organizations.”

The money will be drawn from the pontiff’s personal charity budget “as a sign of the church’s attention for the many people who are suffering” from the global economic slowdown, Lombardi said.

In 2005, some 4,000 Vatican employees received a 1,000 euro bonus ($1,300) upon the death of Pope John Paul II, and another 500 euros ($650) upon the election of his successor, Benedict XVI.

Francis told journalists a few days after his election that he wanted a “poor church, for the poor,” and he has brought a simpler and more sober style to the papacy.

He cut back on the liturgical pomp of his predecessor and has chosen to live in a Vatican guesthouse rather than in the luxurious papal apartments.

Lombardi stressed that the decision to forgo the bonus was not taken as a consequence of the Vatican’s own financial difficulties.

In 2011, the Holy See’s budget registered a $19 million deficit. For the same year, the Vatican City State, which has a separate budget, posted a $27 million surplus.

In December, the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, warned that the Vatican needed to adopt “effective” cost reduction measures in the face of a “continuing inability to increase revenues” on account of the global economic crisis.


  1. I commend Pope Francis on his actions. Departing from many years of the church as an institutional structure that seemed never to be touched by the very principles of Christianity. Donating the extra funds to charity is a lesson in itself. However, I would like to encourage the Vatican and those others who give to charity, to vary the strategy so that resources do not only go to satisfy immediate needs. Some resources must be spent in the generation of productive opportunities for the poor. The poor as a community actually have incredible energy and capacity. One must see that these charity resources can become the base for long-term income generation where there is more dignity and hope for the future. The cost (funds) of charity-distribution can be turned into a much more effective way of caring for the poor.

  2. It is not charity when you take money donated to your operation by the good will of others from the regular pay of your employees and donate it to your choices. It is easy for clergy, from popes down to parish priests, to take the charities given to them and dispose of them as if they are their own. It is just another of the many gross errors in the ancient and outmoded monarchy of the Catholic Church.

  3. Cardinal Bertone follows the practices of bishops world-wide in trying to deflect attention from the church’s problem of a decreasing income from its loss of members in parts of the world where literacy is as high as that of the clergy and income is also high. The church’s economic stress is greatly due to its decreasing membership because of the clergy sex scandal. The lay people who provide all church income are talking by walking. That sex abuse really speaks to required celibacy for clergy and the refusal to ordain women. All is not equal in the church of Jesus, “The Model of the Holy.” All is not good. It is evidence that the cover-up of the sex scandal was conducted by the Vatican.

    Another effort to take attention away from the sex abuse sins and crimes of the celibate, all-male clergy is all the fuss churchmen like Timothy Dolan in New York and William Lori, his henchman in Baltimore, continue to make about contraception and other issues related to women’s and couple’s rights to care for their own welfare, including their health. Dolan and Lori ludicrously try to umbrella it under “religious liberty.” They leave out the liberty of the rights of people to make choices for their own lives and health? Individuals know more about that than the bishops do.

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