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Pope orders pay cut for cardinals as Vatican faces financial crisis

As the Vatican struggles to balance its books during the pandemic, Pope Francis has ordered pay cuts for cardinals and other priests.

The Vatican announced that beginning in April, Cardinals' pay will be cut by 10%. They are thought to be paid up to €5,000 per month (£4,300; $5,900) and live in subsidized housing.

This year, the Vatican anticipates a €50 million deficit. The closure of museums and other attractions as a result of the pandemic has had a significant impact on its revenue. 

In difficult economic times, the Pope has previously stated that he does not want to fire people. The Vatican announced in an apostolic letter on Wednesday (in Italian) that Francis had issued a decree instituting proportional cuts on April 1st.

Priests and other clerics will have their salaries slashed by 3% to 8%, and scheduled wage increases will be put on hold until March 2023.

An economically sustainable future today requires, among other decisions, the adoption of measures concerning staff salaries," the letter read.

It said action was being taken "following the health emergency caused by the spread of Covid-19 which negatively affected all sources of income of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.

The Vatican's lay employees, such as police officers, cleaners, and maintenance workers, live in Rome and face higher living costs. 

Most lay employees, according to a Vatican spokesman quoted by Reuters, will be unaffected by the cuts. 

For much of last year, the popular tourist destinations of St Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums were closed or only partly open due to the chaos.

The Vatican had hoped to reopen the museums this month, but they will have to remain closed due to a new lockdown in Italy. 

The Vatican's top economic official warned earlier this month that the pandemic could force the Holy See to dip into its reserves for the second year in a row. This year's revenue is forecast to be 30% lower than in 2020.

The Pope released a new law last year aimed at increasing transparency in the Vatican's financial dealings. It came after a series of scandals and allegations of mismanagement at the Vatican bank.

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