Nov. 4 (Bloomberg) -- For the first time in almost half a century, Vatican administration staff will clock in for work as part of a clampdown on slackers, a sign that the global financial crisis has also spread to the world's smallest state.
Timekeeping was scrapped in 1960 under Pope John XXIII. Starting Jan. 1, the practice returns. All Holy See employees will be given magnetic badges and forced to clock in and out in an effort to track their movements and ensure they're working a full day, said a Vatican spokesman who declined to be named.
``We can't afford any waste,'' Bishop Renato Boccardo, secretary of the Governatorate of Vatican City State, told La Stampa newspaper. ``There is a lot of work that needs doing, and the financial situation doesn't allow us to hire more staff.'' A spokesman confirmed the comments today.
The Vatican, located across Rome's Tiber River and home to Pope Benedict XVI, relies on earnings from $1 billion in stocks, bonds and real estate to top up donations from Catholics around the world. While the Holy See benefited in the 1990s from booming stock markets and a strong dollar, it plunged into the red in 2003 and again in 2007 because of the U.S. currency's tumble. The financial turmoil is now taking its toll as well.
I don't know how much of this report is accurate. So much coverage of the Vatican is nonsense, but I was struck by the $1 billion figure for Vatican savings. That means that the Central administrative office of a 1.13 billion member organization has managed to hold on to less than one dollar in income and earnings per capita total over the course of 2,000 years.
The United States just authorized an outlay of more than $2,000 per each of its citizens for a financial bailout on a whim.
So much for modern, know-nothing claims of Catholic wealth and hoarding.