Society

Vatican dads will get paternity leave

Pope Francis announced fathers in Vatican will get three days of paternity leave with full pay.

Pope Francis with a child
Pope Francis with a child in Estonia in 2018

Pope Francis revamped Vatican’s family leave policy on March 1. News dads in Vatican will get three days of paternity leave with full pay.

If a large part of Vatican citizens are cardinals or priests who cannot have children because of their religious vows, lay people also live in or work for the smallest state in the world.

Swiss guards, for instance, who act as Vatican’s military and protect the Pope, are the few residents who may have children.

As of 2018, there were 618 citizens of the city-state in the center of Rome, including diplomatic personnel, with only half of them living inside the walls of the city. In total, Vatican had 453 residents, including both citizens and non-citizens, according to the latest official data.

And every year, the average birth is approximately of 1 baby, whose father is among the 104 members of the Swiss Guards. But no baby is born in Vatican as there is no maternity ward.

The city-state however also employs hundreds more people who work in the Holy See bureaucracy, at the Vatican Museums and tend to the city state.

Under the policy, mothers were already entitled to six months’ maternity leave at full pay, which they can extend by another six months at half-pay. Parents who adopt a child are entitled to a similar benefit.

The new law that sets out a three-day leave at full pay for fathers nevertheless seems a very small benefit which sparked mockery on social media. Paternity leaves are often considered to help a more balanced care of children between parents, hence fostering gender equality.

Ironically, Pope Francis has urged couples to have more children, rather than pets, and called for family-friendly government policies.

Francis has frequently lamented the “demographic winter” in Italy, where birthrates are among the lowest in the world.

“Cats and dogs take the place of kids,” he lamented during a recent general audience. “This denial of paternity and maternity diminishes us, it takes away humanity. And this way the civilization becomes older and lacking humanity because you lose the richness of paternity and maternity. And the country suffers.”

As a comparison in Italy, fathers can take 10 days of paid leave and mothers get five months. Vatican looks very much like a patriarchy still.

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