The Vatican is planning staff and other cost cuts to cover an 11 million euro coronavirus financial black hole.

– Holy See hurting from loss of visitors to Vatican Museums

According to an April 8 internal letter of the Governorate of Vatican City published April 10 by Roman newspaper Il Messaggero, temporary employment contracts in the Vatican will not be extended and new hires in the Holy See have been put on hold.

The reason? The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic “on the economic and financial situation of the Holy See and the Vatican State”, the Governorate said.

The pressure on the Vatican to cut costs dates from months or even years back, due to declining revenues, higher administrative expenses and a difficult situation on the financial markets.

But the Holy See’s coffers have taken a particularly hard hit recently ever since the closure of the Vatican Museums last March 8 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

With an average of 20,000 visitors a day, that’s around 11 million euros in lost income thanks to the coronavirus restrictions.

That missing revenue is also the reason why the Governorate, or state administration of the Vatican City, has also announced the cancellation of all conferences, congresses and exhibitions for the current year, the scrapping of business trips and the suspension of the purchase of new office and liturgical equipment.

Furthermore, Vatican employees have been asked to cut overtime, take vacation days earlier and to make up in the future any hours missed when work from home proves impossible.

Other measures announced by the Governorate include a “drastic reduction in consulting costs; the suspension, whenever possible, of fixed-term contracts; a freeze on appointments and promotions; and the cessation of extraordinary labor benefits, except for essential institutional reasons”.

– Cardinal Marx: “This crisis shows that rampant capitalism is not the way to go”

One of the prelates to be talking about the dire financial situation in the Vatican due to the coronavirus recession has been German cardinal Reinhard Marx, the a member of Pope Francis’ ‘kitchen cabinet’ of cardinal advisors and the Coordinator of the Vatican Council for the Economy.

For the Vatican as well as for the German Church, the loss of income during the coronavirus crisis “will probably be significant and may have consequences for ecclesiastical institutions”, warned Marx, the Archbishop of Munich and Freising and former president of the German Bishops’ Conference, in comments to German Catholic news agency KNA.

“The coronavirus must sharpen our eyes to see what is important”, Marx continued, insisting that the Vatican, in particular, “can’t get into debt or raise taxes as other States do, so the lessons of the crisis will have to be learnt and priorities will have to be redefined”.

For the German cardinal – one of Pope Francis’ right-hand men – “this crisis shows that rampant capitalism is not the way to go”.

“Now we have to face its social, political and ecological consequences, and reflect on a truly sustainable new order that benefits everyone as much as possible”, the prelate explained.

In the face of this challenge, the Church cannot “withdraw into a museum-past”, Marx continued, recalling that Pope Francis often criticises a Church that is too self-centred and self-referential.

“We must ask ourselves why we sometimes cling so much to old ideas and traditions that have nothing to say today”, the cardinal concluded.

More on Novena on the economic aftermath of COVID-19:

13/4: Santa Marta Mass: On coronavirus recovery, Pope urges politicians to choose “resurrection of the people”, not “god of money” (full text)

Prophetic: Pope rages against “economic power”, “idolatry” of money; proposes universal basic wage

Francis, on COVID-19: “This is the opportunity for conversion, the time to move from misusing nature, the moment to see the poor”

Santa Marta Mass: Pope rails against “Judases” who trade on coronavirus desperation, “sell their neighbour”

6/4: Powerful: Pope, in Santa Marta Mass: “If I ignore the poor, the Lord will ignore me on the Day of Judgment” – full text

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.