Pope Francis is making a reputation for himself as a frugal man who will forgo the luxuries associated with his office. Gone are the signature Prada red shoes, the ermine fur and the fabulous robes and golden thrones of his predecessor Pope Benedict.
To show he means business about the reform of the church it's understood Francis is now likely to scrap a traditional bonus given to the Vatican's staff, a spokesperson for the Holy See told the press on Thursday.
According to News 24, the bonus is usually paid to Vatican employees to mark special occasions such as the deaths and elections of popes. But no longer. Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi said: 'I don't think there will be any bonus. Extra expenses are something that might be normal in a situation of abundance, but that is not the world we find ourselves in now.'
Lombardi clarified that he was referring to the general European economic climate rather than any specific hardship at the Vatican.
Pope Francis, who took his name after one of the most widely venerated Catholic saints who chose to live in poverty, has decided not to live in the palatial papal flats or wear the customary ornate papal dress in an effort to promote the image of a more humble, less opulent papacy.
In contrast his predecessor Benedict gave workers $650.00 each and a day off to mark his 80 birthday. To mark Benedict's election and the death of John Paul II in 2005, employees were paid $1,900.00 each. The decision means leaner time for about 4 000 Vatican employees.
In place of the employees’ traditonal bonus, Pope Francis ordered Vatican officials to make a donation to some 'charitable organizations.'
Francis told journalists a few days after his election that he wanted a 'poor church, for the poor,' and he has brought a simpler and starker style to the papacy.
In 2011, the Holy See’s budget registered a $19 million deficit. For the same year, the Vatican City State, which has a separate budget, posted a $27 million surplus.