Vatican, Hit By Crisis, Leads Crackdown on ‘Slackers’

When asked how many people work in the Vatican John XXIII famously quipped "About half."

This is in from Bloomberg.

Vatican, Hit By Crisis, Leads Crackdown on ‘Slackers’

By Flavia Krause-Jackson

Nov. 4 (Bloomberg) — For the first time in almost half a century, Vatican administration staff will clock in for work as part of a clampdown on slackers, a sign that the global financial crisis has also spread to the world’s smallest state.

Timekeeping was scrapped in 1960 under Pope John XXIII. Starting Jan. 1, the practice returns. All Holy See employees will be given magnetic badges and forced to clock in and out in an effort to track their movements and ensure they’re working a full day, said a Vatican spokesman who declined to be named.

"We can’t afford any waste," Bishop Renato Boccardo, secretary of the Governatorate of Vatican City State, told La Stampa newspaper. "There is a lot of work that needs doing, and the financial situation doesn’t allow us to hire more staff." A spokesman confirmed the comments today.

The Vatican, located across Rome’s Tiber River and home to Pope Benedict XVI, relies on earnings from $1 billion in stocks, bonds and real estate to top up donations from Catholics around the world. While the Holy See benefited in the 1990s from booming stock markets and a strong dollar, it plunged into the red in 2003 and again in 2007 because of the U.S. currency’s tumble. The financial turmoil is now taking its toll as well.

‘Worrying’ Results

"The results from the first part of 2008 are worrying and don’t inspire optimism," according to a Vatican document published on Sept. 26 by U.K. Catholic weekly "The Tablet." Vincenzo Di Mauro, secretary of the Prefecture of Economic Affairs for the Holy See, declined to comment on the current state of the Vatican’s finances.

The Holy See, the central administration for the Roman Catholic Church, swung into a deficit in 2007 because of "brusque and accentuated inversion of the currency markets, above all the American dollar," according to a statement posted on the Vatican Web site on July 9. The combined surplus in the past three years was 15.2 million euros ($19.4 million).

The push for greater efficiency comes from the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, which oversees the property owned by the Holy See. The source of the Vatican’s wealth invested in the global markets dates to the 1929 Lateran Treaties, when Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini compensated the pope for the loss of the Papal States in 1870 with the reunification of Italy.

The Holy See, which according to its annual financial statement has 2,748 employees including priests and lay people, has also devised an evaluation system to reward hard workers and punish slackers, the spokesman said. According to the new measures, prolonged absences will result in pay cuts while virtuous employees can benefit from bonuses.

Vatican workers earn between 1,300 euros and 2,300 euros a month, according to La Stampa newspaper. In addition to their salaries, they also enjoy perks such as duty-free gas and subsidized housing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson in Rome at

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. DavidJ says:

    Working at the Vatican with duty-free gas and subsidized housing? Where do I sign up?

  2. Patrick says:

    They really shouldn’t be surprised with a German in charge.

  3. Andrew says:

    A similar report on the BBC yesterday:

    They mentioned that it was part of a plan to introduce more meritocracy and, eventually, performance
    related pay. Hopefully, “performance” will be measured on “Saying the black; Doing the red”.

  4. A Random Friar says:

    When I read this, I was rather, and pleasantly, surprised. I began wondering if Satan had started ice-skating to work. But I’m glad to hear it. The Vatican is run on the money of the people of God, and I imagine St. Matthew will be checking our books when we “check out,” to make sure we were good stewards.

  5. BJA says:

    “Vatican workers earn between 1,300 euros and 2,300 euros a month, according to La Stampa newspaper. In addition to their salaries, they also enjoy perks such as duty-free gas and subsidized housing.”

    Wow! Where do I apply? :-)

  6. “When asked how many people work in the Vatican John XXIII famously quipped “About half.” ”

    Good one!

    I told my husband this morning that we should apply for jobs at the Vatican. He could stay busy keeping the marble up since he has a lot of experience in that area. I haven’t figured out what I would be good at though. Maybe ironing, since I am the only woman I know
    who still irons clothes.

  7. Phil (NL) says:

    DavidJ, BJA:

    Saying it’s barely possible to drive a car in Rome is only a mild exaggeration, and Italian taxes are rather steep too – the 27% rate already kicks in at 15,000, the 38% one at 28,000. Combine that with Rome being an expensive city, I applaud anyone working for the Vatican. There are probably a lot among them who could make significantly more elsewhere.

  8. gabriel says:

    I heard about this from a member of CTV last summer when I was in Rome. Him and his buddies were NOT amused. Then me (German – working in machinery industry) and him (Italian – working for the Vatican) had a rather funny discussion about structure and efficiency… I’m still on the floor thinking about it, now!!!

    I think it’s the best way to finally clean the house a bit.. start from the bottom..

  9. mpm says:

    “Timekeeping was scrapped in 1960 under Pope John XXIII.”

    That’s curious. I remember hearing that during a press-conference (perhaps the
    first ever by any Pope) Blessed John XXIII was asked by an American reporter
    “Your Holiness, how many people work in the Vatican?”

    To which Blessed John replied: “Oooh, about half.”

    Don’t know if it’s a spurious anecdote or valid.

  10. I once heard that clocking in for work was introduced in the Vatican in the reign of Pius XII. Is this story true ?

  11. Rob in Maine says:

    Is the time clock next to the Holy Water inside the door?

    Dip. Cross. Punch. :)

  12. Breviarylover says:

    How do you get to become a Vatican employee if your a lay person? Do you have to have special requirements?

  13. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Reminds me of the old joke:

    A message was received by a fervent local which he reported to his pastor:
    “Jesus Christ will be here in a few days! What should I do?”
    The panicked pastor told his bishop,
    “A fervent parishioner has gotten a message that Jesus Christ is coming in a few days. What should I do?”
    The bishop called the Archbishop in a slathered panic,
    “Jesus Christ is coming in a few days!!! What should I do?”
    The Archbishop called the Cardinal in a frenzy, urgently begging, “Tell us what to do!! Jesus Christ is coming in a few days!!!!!!”
    The Cardinal immediately called the Pope, frightened out of his mind, “What do we do, what do we do? Jesus Christ is arriving any time now!”
    The Pope, on the other end of the phone paused a moment, and then calmly responded, “Looookah beeeeeezeeee.”

  14. Cornelius says:

    ” . . . prolonged absences will result in pay cuts . . .”

    Oh, this is rich! Where I work “prolonged absences” result in courts-martial.

    And where most of the world works, “prolonged absences” result in no job,
    not just “pay cuts”.

  15. Grateful in Seattle for NA Martyrs says:

    Where I work “prolonged absences” result in oodles of compassion,
    elaborate excuses, no accountability whatsoever, and ever more
    absences. Way to go Vatican.

  16. Andrew says:

    “Timekeeping was scrapped in 1960 under Pope John XXIII”…along with other things.

    Is this, perhaps, another “Benedictine” reform of the reform?

  17. Derik says:

    I can only imagine what would happen to “productivity” if the internet conections worked properly.

    just kidding

  18. Tzard says:

    Isn’t it a Benedictine virtue to make holy the hours of the day?

  19. frenchSainte says:

    i wonder what companies are the Vatican investing in. Wanna work at the Vatican.

Comments are closed.