Living at the expense of the Holy See will soon no longer be free for cardinals and senior Vatican officials. Pope Francis has decided to end the real estate benefits they enjoyed, including their rent exemption, the official Vatican news site reported on Wednesday (March 1). Holy See leaders and officials are called upon to make a “sacrifice” in the face of economic hardship by paying market prices for their apartments, according to Vatican News.

The heads, second and third levels of the heads of the dicasteries, equivalent to the Vatican of the ministries, are particularly concerned. This decision was taken “to meet the growing commitments” of the Church, “in an economic context, like today’s, of particular gravity”, according to the text. He insists on the need “for all to make an extraordinary sacrifice to allocate more resources to the mission of the Holy See”.

This measure does not apply to current contracts, which will run until their term without being affected by the decision. However, “they may only be extended or renewed in compliance” with the new rules and “any exception to the new regulations (will have to) be directly authorized by the pope,” according to Vatican News. The decision was not the subject of an official press release and the Vatican officials contacted by AFP could not be reached immediately to detail the terms.

Since his election in 2013, Francis has sought to put the finances of the Holy See in order, while trying to increase transparency in the Vatican. In 2021, to clean up the finances of the Holy See hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Argentine pope had already reduced the salaries of cardinals, prelates and heads of dicasteries.