His Holiness' Awesome Retirement Package

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 1 2013 1:08 PM

What Type of Retirement Package Does an Ex-Pope Get? A Big One.

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The convent of Mater Ecclesiae (Mother of the Church) by St. Peter's Dome in the Vatican City State, where Benedict XVI will live in retirement once renovations are complete.

Photo by Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

The ex-pope Benedict XVI may very well think of himself as  "simply a pilgrim" after stepping down from the papacy, but his church-funded retirement package suggests he'll be living a few notches above that on the retirement ladder.

According to the Italian daily La Stampa, the pope emeritus's pension will bring him 2,500 euros (or about $3,250) a month. That's the typical pension for a retired bishop (the pope is also the Bishop of Rome), which as CNBC notes, is only about $100 short of the maximum pension possible under Social Security. While that number in itself might not seem obscenely high, Benedict won't exactly have very many expenses on his plate, the report explains: housing (first in the extravagant papal summer home, and then at the Vatican), meals, housekeeping, and other living expenses are all covered by the Roman Catholic Church. He doesn't even have to buy himself a new pair of shoes after giving up the trademark red ones that are part of the papal uniform.

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The La Stampa report from earlier this month, translated by the Independent, notes that should Benedict's successor decide to make the pope emeritus a cardinal emeritus, his pension would double to 5,000 euros a month, or the equivalent of about $78,000 a year.

According to the Telegraph, the pope's Vatican retirement home — he'll relocate there from the summer estate of Castel Gandolfo after about two months, once the Vatican space is renovated — is "possibly the most privileged retirement home in the world." The British paper got a tour of the Mater Ecclesiae nunnery, which includes a view of the Sistine Chapel and a small, private chapel.

As Slate explained upon Benedict XVI's resignation (he gets to keep the name, by the way), the pope emeritus will also continue to get access to his team of doctors and the Vatican's generous health care plan.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.

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