Pope Francis Breaks Tradition, Redirects to Charity Bonuses Meant for Vatican Staff

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | April 19, 2013 4:03 PM EST

Continuing to defy traditions, Pope Francis has thumbed down the release of monetary bonuses meant for some 4,500 Vatican employees and instead redirected parts of the money to be donated to some charitable organizations.

Vatican workers, composed of both religious and lay people, traditionally receive certain monetary compensations every time there is a change in leadership in the top post of the Catholic church hierarchy.

In 2005, when John Paul II died, Vatican staff received a bonus of 1,000 euro (AU$1,265, current exchange rate) and then another 500 euros (AU$632) when Benedict XVI got elected to rule the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic church.

All in all, those monetary disbursements alone cost the Vatican some AU$9 million.

But this year's particular prelude and finale to the 2013 papal conclave will see none of those generous gestures.

"On account of the difficult situation of the general economy, it seemed neither possible nor opportune to burden Vatican institutions with a considerable unforeseen extraordinary expense," Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican's chief spokesman, said.

The decision to cancel the monetary allocation was reflective of the new pope's stance to build a "poor church, for the poor," of which he had so many times tried to prove, such as minimizing the pomp and grandeur religious followers and non-believers have observed with his predecessor.

"Extra expenses are something that might be normal in a situation of abundance, but that is not the world we find ourselves in now," Rev. Lombardi said, especially since the Vatican posted a 19 million euro deficit in 2011.

On the day of his formal installation alone, one-month old Pope Francis chose to wear a wooden cross, simple white robe and shoes, and even recycled and wore a silver ring as his papal ring.

He has also chose to live in a more modest accommodation than in the luxurious papal apartments.

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