Loading...
Loading...
Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Pope Francis leaves after a visit to Radio Vaticana offices in Rome Monday, May 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis challenged the Vatican’s own media employees Monday to essentially justify their continued work, asking them how many people actually consume their news in a critique of the office that costs the Holy See more than all its embassies around the world combined.

Francis visited the Dicastery of Communications, Vatican Radio and the headquarters of the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, which is marking its 160th anniversary. He appeared to use the occasion to lay down the gauntlet at a fraught financial time for the Holy See.

Facing a major pension funding shortage and a projected 50 million euro ($61 million) deficit this year, Francis has ordered salary cuts from 3% to 10% for Vatican employees, both lay and religious, and paused seniority bonuses for two years.

Francis has vowed not to fire anyone to offset the economic crisis created by COVID-19 and the pandemic-related shuttering of one of the Holy See’s main sources of revenue, ticket sales from the Vatican Museums.

But in a warning of sorts to the Vatican communications staff, he opened his unscripted remarks Monday with a pointed question.

“There are a lot of reasons to be worried about the 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 nice and organized, but that there was a “danger” that their work doesn’t arrive where it is supposed to. He warned them against falling prey to a “lethal" functionality where they go through the motions but don't actually achieve anything.

The question has been posed many times, since the Vatican’s communications office consumes more of the budget than any other department: According to the latest figures, the Dicastry for Communications had a 43 million euros ($52.5 million) budget for 2021, around 20 percent of the whole.

Its expenses are greater than the combined expenses of the 10 smallest Vatican departments.

The Vatican has long justified the costs because its communications operations are at the core of the Holy See’s main mission: to communicate the Catholic faith to all corners of the globe.

The cuts Francis has imposed across the board have sparked a minor revolt among Vatican employees. They penned a blistering open letter May 20 expressing their “dismay and profound discouragement” at the cuts, lack of overtime and uncompensated increased workload, which they said didn't conform to the Catholic Church’s social doctrine.

They lamented in particular the great disparities in pay and benefits, especially for some lay managers and outside consultants on whom the Holy See relies heavily to oversee and clean up its finances.

“One cannot ignore the economic difficulties that families are today called to confront as a result of the pandemic,” they lamented in asking for a meeting to discuss their concerns.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

For Thanksgiving week, “Inside the Vatican” is bringing you a brief update on a few of the top Vatican stories.
Inside the VaticanNovember 24, 2022
Israeli far-right lawmaker and the head of "Jewish Power" party, Itamar Ben-Gvir visits at Hatikva Market in Tel Aviv during his campaign. Israel's outgoing coalition was one of its most diverse, but the country's incoming coalition is hoping to roll back many of the achievements of the former government. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)
Mere “survival should not be the utmost ambition for a people in democratic countries, but rather prosperity and welfare. I believe that Israel is going to be more Jewish and much less democratic, and we’ll all pay the price for that.”
Judith SudilovskyNovember 23, 2022
A Reflection for Saturday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time, by Zac Davis
Zac DavisNovember 23, 2022
A Reflection for Friday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time, by Colleen Dulle
Colleen DulleNovember 23, 2022