How Much Money Does The Pope Get Paid?

Despite presiding over the smallest country in the world, the Pope is one of the most influential leaders of the world, what with the whole "head of one of the world's most influential religions" situation and everything. Seeing as the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic church is a massively powerful religious leader and the head of Vatican, a place with no shortage of opulent riches and dark secrets, it's easy to assume that the man in white has enough dough to spend his off hours swimming in gold coins, Scrooge McDuck-style. After all, if power translates to money, wouldn't a position as prestigious as this virtually guarantee that the Pope is, as they say, loaded? Or, at the very least, compensated extremely generously for his important job? Let's see just how much the Pope is paid.

The Pope is paid a lot less than you'd think

Turns out, the Pope is not exactly the CEO of a large company, so a hefty salary is not a given. In fact, according to the Irish Times the Vatican has outright stated that the Pope "does not and has never received a salary." On the contrary, despite all the riches of the Vatican the Pope technically presides over, when a pope-elect prepares to be fully Poped up, he tends to personally become quite a bit poorer, as all his private property is generally either transferred to his family, placed in a foundation or trust, or just given to the Church. Not that this is a huge deal for the current incumbent, as Francis II is under a Jesuit vow of poverty.

Popin' for a profit

That's not to say that popes can't use their influence to gain a hefty bank account, though. While the current incumbent, Francis II, doesn't strike you as a particularly money-grabbing sort of fellow, history knows plenty of popes who were actually terrible people — and who have leveraged said terribleness into assorted deeds of debauchery and corruption. One guy, Pope Benedict IX, even sold the papacy itself away once. Oh, and speaking of Benedicts, the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who retired in 2013, does reportedly receive a monthly pension of $2,736, plus continues to enjoy all the comfort, privacy, legal security and protection that living in the Vatican allows.

Pontifex carnal

The Pope might not draw a salary, but the gig is for life (unless you pull a Benedict XVI and retire), and as anyone who has seen the Vatican can attest, the incumbent is not exactly living in poverty. He has his own bulletproof Popemobile, for crying out loud! Therefore, many popes in history have opted to skip the "amass great personal wealth" part in favor of going with the thing that is often less readily available for high-ranking, elderly clergymen: Debauchery. 

Leo XIII, for instance, was very much into a cocaine-infused wine called vin mariani, to the point that he had a special, golden hip flask that he carried around to ensure that a buzz was always readily available. John XII was reportedly into murder and shady bedroom antics. Urban VI and Innocent IV were both torture guys. Sergius III? The word "pornocracy" has been used to describe his tenure. Oh, and remember Benedict IX, the "sold the papacy" guy? He committed at least bribery, adultery and, surprise surprise, selling church offices, a.k.a. simony ... along with being accused of murder and increasingly awful sex crimes. You'd think they'd retired the name after that, but apparently, seven Benedicts so far have felt otherwise. 

The Popes of the past were in a unique position to make big bucks if they wanted

While the popes of the modern world are unlikely to run rampant in the way some of their historical predecessors have done, the Holy See's history has made it clear that certain popes of the past who opted to take the "dolla dolla bill y'all" approach to their poping were in an extremely handy position to do just that. Here, we must mention Pope Alexander VI, a powerful member of the Borgia family who more or less bribed his way to papacy and proceeded to put a good chunk of his family in powerful positions within the church. He also earned very nice amounts of money from his side hustle, which was selling cardinal positions to the candidates with the deepest pockets. 

Another prime candidate for the prestigious "most enterprising pope" award is Sixtus IV, who Encyclopedia Britannica notes is the guy who came up with indulgence — a concept that allowed living people to make donations to the church in order to shorten their dead loved ones' time in purgatory. Oh, and he also licensed a bunch of brothels. Did this technically make him both a pope and a pimp? That's probably one of those thoughts that earned you an extra ten years in the purgatory — unless you remembered to tell your loved ones to keep up the indulgence payments to the guy.