I just started wondering after seeing the white smoke, did the cardinal just receive a raise when he became the pope? What's his salary if he is paid.


2 Answers 2


Actually the opposite: his pay went down to 0. The pope receives no salary.

His modest daily needs (food, shelter, clothing, medical care) are provided for by the Vatican1. Popes do not accumulate wealth, and usually die in office. It's difficult to even imagine what he would use money for. He has all he needs. He is able to say the Mass, and he is able to serve God and people. He lives in the midst of a beautiful historic site.

Sometimes, Catholics try to give him money, but he just gives it all away.

1 - though perhaps not always to our standards: "Reportedly, the Papal Apartments had been in disrepair, with 'outmoded furnishings and lack of lighting' and large drums placed in the false ceiling to catch water leaks." (Wikipedia)

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    What about his assets before he is made the pope?
    – user3961
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 20:40
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    @fredsbend My understanding is that any (scant) monetary assets are given away, if they haven't already been exhausted on things like books (Pope Benedict brought 20,000 books into the Papal Apartments when he moved in). Why keep any money when you finally have a chance to be free of personal riches, and full of the riches that God provides?
    – Alypius
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 20:54
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    'Why keep money when you can be free from it.' True. What a blessing that would be. +1
    – user3961
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 21:00
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    So...if he wanted to buy a book or some item from Amazon, it's just billed to the Vatican? Does he get some kind of stipend, or something like that to live on for personal things? Just because it's not a "salary" I have trouble believing he doesn't get something to work with of value, or some way of getting items outside the modest daily needs to live by. Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 1:22
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    A salary by any other name is still a salary. He gets no stipend, and someone else handles the finances of the Vatican (the pope is not an accountant). If the pope wants a book, he may request it from a library or from a colleague. If he cannot obtain something in that way, he probably asks someone who handles such things to obtain it. I expect that the most "extravagant" request of this sort was this piano (or maybe he owned it prior to becoming pope), but all that might be another question.
    – Alypius
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 2:30

Actually it might be little known fact, but yes, they do get paid, but not when they are alive though. Three bags containing gold, silver, and copper coins are placed in the coffin beside the body of a dead pope. Each bag contains one coin for each year in his reign. This is the only monetary compensation a pope receives for his service as pope.

The last pope to get paid like this was, as you guessed, Bl. Pope John Paul II, the Great. The total worth of the coins was €100.26. Here is an actual Image of him getting paid:

enter image description here

  • Good find. I saw this mentioned a couple of times when I was checking my answer, but could not find a good source like your picture. This adds to the idea that popes in general don't get paid while alive: if they got paid when alive, a tradition of symbolically "paying" them after death would not arise. I wonder how long this tradition has been around.
    – Alypius
    Commented Apr 13, 2013 at 21:21
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    For my next question I'll be asking which pope held office the longest and where he is buried. Come to think of it, maybe I should use a pseudonym for that one...
    – Caleb
    Commented Apr 13, 2013 at 23:00
  • Perhaps this is used to pay his way out of purgatory...? Or does he get a 'Get out of Jail free' card for being the Poep?
    – McGafter
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 11:52
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    @McGafter: Neither, it is just a token of gratitude (a symbolic gesture). This is useless in the next world. Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 15:24

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