Vatican buys 500 packets of cigarettes a month

Five hundred packets of cigarettes are supplied to the Vatican each month, while cardinals also receive coupons for petrol, according to details written in a letter to the Vatican's economy chief.

Vatican buys 500 packets of cigarettes a month
500 packets of cigarettes are supplied each month to the Vatican. Phots: Cigarettes: Shutterstock

Two hundred of the cigarette packets come with a 20 percent discount, while cardinals also enjoy a 15 percent discount at the supermarket within Vatican City, La Repubblica reported. 

The details emerged in a letter written by the Vatican Governorate’s Secretary General, Father Fernando Vergez Alzaga, to Australian Cardinal George Pell, who was appointed to oversee the Vatican's budget in February as part of Pope Francis' plans to cleans up its finances.

The letter, published in La Repubblica, was written on March 26th.

It read: “Your Most Reverend Eminence…I give you my warmest congratulations on your appointment as prefect for the economy. At the same time, I have the honour to inform Your Eminence of the following facilities provided to Cardinals.”

The newspaper reported that some within the Vatican say the cigarettes and petrol are just “a small benefit” for the Cardinals, who usually give the cigarettes to those who can’t afford them, while others claim to have never requested a packet of cigarettes or petrol.

On top of the discounts, no excise duty or VAT is paid on items bought by the Vatican.

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Pope appoints French woman to senior synod post

Pope Francis has broken with Catholic tradition to appoint a woman as an undersecretary of the synod of bishops, the first to hold the post with voting rights in a body that studies major questions of doctrine.

Pope appoints French woman to senior synod post
Pope Francis has appointed Nathalie Becquart as undersecretary of the synod of bishops. She is the first woman to hold the post. Photo: AFP

Frenchwoman Nathalie Becquart is one of the two new undersecretaries named on Saturday to the synod, where she has been a consultant since 2019.

The appointment signals the pontiff's desire “for a greater participation of women in the process of discernment and decision-making in the church”, said Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary-general of the synod.

“During the previous synods, the number of women participating as experts and listeners has increased,” he said.

“With the nomination of Sister Nathalie Becquart and her possibility of participating in voting, a door has opened.”

The synod is led by bishops and cardinals who have voting rights and also comprises experts who cannot vote, with the next gathering scheduled for autumn 2022.

A special synod on the Amazon in 2019 saw 35 female “auditors” invited to the assembly, but none could vote.

The Argentinian-born pope has signalled his wish to reform the synod and have women and laypeople play a greater role in the church.

He named Spaniard Luis Marin de San Martin as the other under undersecretary in the synod of bishops.

Becquart, 52, a member of the France-based Xaviere Sisters, has a master's degree in management from the prestigious HEC business school in Paris and studied in Boston before joining the order.