Report: Average Vatican Employee makes $10.50 an hour!?

Report: Average Vatican Employee makes $10.50 an hour!?

Headlines of other reports on this topic:

Crux: When pope backs workers, Vatican laity wonder, ‘What about us?’

The Eponymous Flower: Pope Francis Exploits [Vatican] Workers

[“Popes who live in glass-houses shouldn’t throw stones”]

May 23, 2016
Posted by Tantumblogo

In the light of Pope Francis’ incredible statements made last week, seeming to attribute mortal sin to “bloodsucking” employers who fail to provide what he feels are adequate wages and, more specifically, health insurance, it is reported that the average Vatican employee makes $22,000 a year, and this in Rome, one of the more expensive places in the world to live. If you assume a 40 hour work week (indications below are that many work much more than that) and 52 weeks work a year (the article also claims most receive no paid vacation), that works out to just over $10.50 an hour, about what a moderately experienced grocery store clerk makes. However, this income is supposed to be tax free, the impact of which is unclear to me in real terms. In the US, people who make under $45k a year rarely pay any income tax, anyway, but I’m not certain of the situation in Italy.

Some additional details [with Tantumblogo’s comments in brackets]:

…..The Vatican has a working force of roughly 4,600 employees, three quarters of which are lay people. The overall annual budget is around $300 million, with salaries and benefits being the largest single expense. [We don’t know, from the data presented here, just how much of that $300 mil goes to salary. If we can assume 2/3 of the total Vatican annual budget goes to personnel costs, and that would probably be a bit high given many other expenses, the “average” salary+benefits cost per employee would equal ~$43500 a year – pretty durned low, especially in Rome]

……The net result is that the average Vatican employee makes around $22,000 a year, tax free.

That may seem shockingly low by American standards, but for those already in the system it’s at least a secure source of employment: Odds are, the Vatican is never going out of business. [Does it seem shockingly low to you? Seems pretty low to me]

Under the Vatican’s labor law, it’s also virtually impossible to get fired……….

……..Those working with a full-time contract get a pension and health care, though anyone living in Italy for more than three months and who registers with the National Health Services is eligible for free or low-cost health care along with their families, university students and retirees.

Things have gotten considerably more difficult for many lay Vatican employees since February 2014, when the Vatican announced an immediate end to new hires and imposed a freeze on wage-increases and overtime in an effort to cut costs and offset budget shortfalls.

Pope Francis, with input from the Vatican’s central accounting office, also determined that volunteers could be used to help provide the labor needed to make up for the hiring freeze and eventual attrition.

According to four Vatican lay employees, all of whom asked to remain unnamed, the freeze has created new ways in which laity face exploitation.

In truth, new lay people are still being hired to work in the Vatican, but under what are known as “religious contracts.” These contracts are supposed to be for religious men and women coming to Rome to fulfill a specific task, for a period ranging from 10 months to a year. [Which would seem dubious to start with. Also a sad sign of the continued collapse of religious life?]

Since religious communities normally provide health insurance, pension and benefits, the Vatican doesn’t have to cover them, and doesn’t do so for a lay employee hired under these contracts. [So that notional $22,000 salary does not even include the single largest additional cost to employers – health insurance?]

This is the case of many people working today at Vatican Radio, for instance, or the Vatican Museums.

In most cases, the employees add, people under these contracts end up working for many years, with no benefits, no guaranteed vacation days or no health insurance, hoping to eventually see their situation regularized. [My goodness. If true, wow. Hypocrisy much?]

Now, this is one report, not exactly the gold standard for reliability, but nevertheless, if even somewhat true, this would reveal a huge dichotomy between the rhetoric we are treated to, and the reality of how Francis runs the Vatican administration as a sort of religious CEO. It would mean, in essence, that Francis has condemned himself with his words. And not for the first time, I might add.

There could of course be true mitigating circumstances, a perceived need to balance the Vatican books, the collapse in religious fervor leading a general decrease in donations to Peter’s Pence (for which, it can be said, Francis shares a growing responsibility), perhaps some dire and unseen funding/debt difficulties – all of which apply to private “bloodsuckers” just as much as they do to the Vatican. Meaning, that while the seemingly low pay of Vatican employees, and using less than perfectly just means to keep employee costs down, can perhaps be excused or explained away, they cannot be squared with the rhetoric declaring others who do exactly the same things for perhaps even better reasons to be mortally sinful.

A skeptic might add that such behavior, however, would be thoroughly in line with the Peronist oligarchical populists of Argentina, who loved to condemn the rich as evil and show themselves to be the friend of the poor common working man, even while obscenely enriching themselves, often at the expense of the poor.

Thankfully, I am not a skeptic.

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