Speed Reads

His Holiness

Pope Francis imposes austerity, Vatican officials complain of socialism

Getty Images/Franco Origlia

Just over a year into his reign as the Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis has gained a reputation as a generous soul. But Vatican officials increasingly fear the budget cuts and austerity measures he is imposing on day-to-day operations. Last month, the Vatican's Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin informed all department heads of an immediate freeze on new hires, wage increases, and overtime. Expensive management consultants have been hired to advise the restructuring.

Not all the officials are happy with the austerity measures. From the U.K.'s Catholic Herald:

But many can see how the situation could be handled better. "Everything is cuts, cuts, cuts," said one official. "Not once have they talked about how we could raise revenue." A senior official in the secretary of state told me they're so understaffed and overworked that "the work simply never gets done." "The problem is they're so socialistic here," the first official said. "You say the word revenue and they respond with: 'Oh filthy lucre!' They're all secretly jealous [of enterprising initiatives]." Some have proposed a fundraising office for the Holy See, but it's apparently ruled out because it would appear crass. [Catholic Herald]

The union of Vatican workers is relatively powerless to stop the cuts. And employees are being assured that changes to their status will be handled with care. The Church's mission is one of reconciliation. As head of state, Pope Francis seems to be reconciling the "socialistic" distaste of money power with a parsimonious form of austerity.