The recession looms in the Vatican. Guilty? The coronavirus, which forced a break for months in the Vatican economy. The drastic reduction of visitors and faithful to St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, the decrease in building rental fees or the sales percentages in street stalls in St. Peter’s Square, led the Holy See to have red numbers worth 48 million euros. Roman prospects are not very promising. In fact, the Ministry of Economy has just presented its forecasts for 2021, which bet on losses of 49.7 million euros. In total, the Vatican assumes that the deficit due to the pandemic will reach, at least, one hundred million euros.
In a statement, the body reported that the Pope had given his consent to the budgets of the Holy See for 2021, which include a forecast of total income of 260.4 million euros, and expenses of 310.1 million. Some forecasts, admits Rome, “very affected by the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The ‘Óbolo de San Pedro’ and the ‘Becciu case’
And it could be worse: if the churches around the world did not contribute with the so-called ‘Obolo de San Pedro’, a fund that the Pope usually dedicates to social works (and that has been seen in the eye of the hurricane after the ‘Becciu case ‘, the cardinal ousted by Bergoglio for allegedly using the money of the poor to buy palaces in London or finance a hypothetical parallel Vatican diplomacy), the Holy See would have lost another 30.3 million euros, with which the total deficit forecasts by 2021 they would have exceeded 80 million.
And it is that last year income decreased by 21% (48 million euros) compared to 2019, “due to the reduction in business, service and real estate activities, as well as donations and contributions,” explains the Vatican, adding that the budget of the Holy See also reflects “a significant cost containment effort, with a reduction in operating expenses – excluding personnel costs – of 14% (24 million euros) compared to 2019.”
At the moment, the Vatican is not considering layoffs. “Maintaining the job continues to be a priority for the Holy Father in these difficult times,” they explain from the Ministry of Economy. However, where there are layoffs, or at least sanctions, for Vatican workers who refuse to be vaccinated against the coronavirus without proven health reasons, or fail to comply with health regulations.
With the caveats of a reasoned conscientious objection, the Vatican Governatorate announces sanctions of up to 1,500 euros and that, in the most serious cases, “can lead to the interruption of the employment relationship,” according to a decree of February 8, which recovers a regulation from 2011 which establishes the sanctions for those who put public health at risk.
In addition to the possibility of dismissals, the decree recalls the prohibition of meetings, the need for physical distancing, the adoption of personal protective equipment, hygiene standards, therapeutic protocols and “vaccination protocols”, and attaches a table with the sanctions that They range from 25 euros if a mask is not used to 1,500 euros in case of a quarantine violation.
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