Pope Francis questions the ability of Vatican media to reach audiences | Pope Francis
Pope Francis challenged Vatican media workers to 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 of its embassies around the world put together .
Francis visited the Dicastery of Communication, 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 â¬ 50million (Â£ 43million) this year, Francis ordered pay cuts of between 3% and 10% for Vatican employees, lay and 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.
âThere are many reasons to be concerned [Vatican] Radio, L’Osservatore, but that touches my heart: how many people are listening [Vatican] 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 actually get nothing.
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 Dicastery for Communication had a budget of 43 million euros 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 stunning open letter on Thursday expressing their “dismay and deep discouragement” at the cuts, lack of overtime and increased unpaid workload, which they say are not in line 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 outside consultants on whom the Holy See relies heavily to monitor and consolidate its finances.
âWe cannot ignore the economic hardships that families are called upon to face today as a result of the pandemic,â they said, calling for a meeting to discuss their concerns.