Pope Francis asks the Vatican media department, his dearest office: who actually reads your news?
ROME (AP) – Pope Francis challenged Vatican media workers on Monday to essentially justify their continued work, asking how many people actually consume their information in a review of the office that costs the Holy See more than all its embassies around the world together. .
Francis visited the Dicastery of Communications, Vatican Radio and the headquarters of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, which is celebrating its 160th anniversary. He seemed to take the opportunity to put the glove down at a busy financial time for the Holy See.
Faced with a severe shortage of pension funds and a projected deficit of 50 million euros ($ 61 million) this year, Francis ordered pay cuts of 3% to 10% for Vatican employees, laity and others. religious, and suspended seniority bonuses for two years.
Francis has promised not to fire anyone to make up for the economic crisis created by COVID-19 and the pandemic-related shutdown of one of the Holy See’s main sources of income, the sale of Vatican Museums tickets.
But in a sort of warning to Vatican communications staff, he opened his unwritten remarks on Monday with a pointed question.
“There are many reasons to be worried about Radio, L’Osservatore, but one that touches my heart: how many people listen to the Radio? How many people read L’Osservatore Romano? Francis asked.
He said their work was good, their offices well organized and organized, but that there was a “danger” that their work would not get where it was supposed to. He warned them against falling prey to a “lethal” feature where they perform the moves but don’t achieve anything.
The question has been asked repeatedly, because the Vatican communications office consumes more of the budget than any other department: according to the latest figures, the Dicastry for Communications had a budget of 43 million euros (52.5 million) for 2021, or about 20% of the total.
Its spending is greater than the combined spending of the 10 smaller Vatican departments.
The Vatican has long justified the costs because its communications operations are at the heart of the main mission of the Holy See: to communicate the Catholic faith to the four corners of the globe.
The cuts that Francis imposed at all levels sparked a small revolt among Vatican employees. They wrote a dazzling open letter on May 20 expressing their “dismay and deep discouragement” at the cuts, lack of overtime and increased unpaid workload, which they say are not. in accordance with the social doctrine of the Catholic Church.
They deplored in particular the great disparities in remuneration and benefits, in particular for certain lay executives and external consultants on whom the Holy See relies heavily to monitor and consolidate its finances.
“We cannot ignore the economic difficulties that families are called upon to face today as a result of the pandemic,” they lamented, requesting a meeting to discuss their concerns.