When he was once asked how many people worked in the Vatican, Pope John XXIII (1958-63) is said to have replied: "About half, I think."
Pope Benedict XVI, perhaps aware of this gibe, has decided to offer the first financial rewards and corporate-style incentives to Vatican employees who are thought to be "doing a good job". The bonuses, which will apply to the 3,000 people who work in the Vatican, from the highest cardinal to the humblest cleaner, will be awarded on the basis of "dedication, correctness, professionalism and productivity".
Job VII:2-3 Announcing the measure, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State - the equivalent of prime minister - said that employees had been asking for such a bonus system for the past decade.
The Vatican will offer a three-tier "level of merit" bonus system, with the top bonus being 10 per cent of salary. "Meritocracy has breached the Vatican walls," Il Messaggero, the Rome daily newspaper, said. The deal, to take effect in January, was negotiated with the Vatican's association of employees, the ADLV, the closest organisation to a trade union in the Holy See. There are also about 1,000 clergy and nuns in Vatican City - one of the world's smallest sovereign states. It is not clear how their "productivity" is to be measured, but this should prove rather easier with the administrators, secretaries, gardeners and mechanics, and the staff of the Vatican Museums, the Vatican Bank and Vatican Radio and Television.
At present the lowest-paid workers in Vatican City receive €1,100-€1,200 (?785-?860) a month, and the highest-paid employees up to €2,500 a month. The pay of cardinals and archbishops who head departments is said to be about €3,500 a month, but this is supplemented by many benefits, such as free housing and official cars. In addition all Vatican employees - many of whom are local Italians who live in Rome and commute - have access to the Vatican duty-free shop and tax-free petrol.
"If after a certain number of years an employee has worked well but has remained at the same employment level without promotion, he or she deserves to be rewarded with a rise based on merit," Cardinal Bertone said. However, to pay for the bonuses, department heads would have to "keep a close eye on expenditure and ensure a wise use of resources", the cardinal said. The Pope has asked Cardinal Bertone to overhaul the "machinery of government" in Vatican City.
The Vatican also gives one-off bonuses to its employees on special occasions such as papal birthdays and the election of a new pontiff. In April employees were given a bonus of €500 and a holiday to mark the 80th birthday of Pope Benedict.
When he was elected pontiff they received not only €500 to mark his elevation but also a further €1,000 as "gratitude for their service" to his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, during his 27-year reign. ( Times )