As an avid soccer fan, the Pope's right-hand man, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, knows better than most that in the end it is the result that counts. No one, though, had expected Benedict XVI's new secretary of state to be quite so goal-minded as to bring performance-related pay to the Vatican. But he has.
A statement late on Wednesday said a meeting presided over by the cardinal -- effectively, the Pope's prime minister -- had approved the introduction "into the Vatican pay system of an element of incentive and remuneration that takes account of factors such as dedication, professionalism, productivity and politeness."
The conditions will not apply to the priests, bishops, monks and nuns who form the papal administration, known as the Roman Curia, but to lay workers. Some 2,600 people are employed in the Vatican, which has a post office, a supermarket, a railway station, acres of high-maintenance gardens, museums and a newspaper. Vatican salaries have traditionally been modest, with basic pay ranging from ?11,650 (US$24,150) to ?20,600. But it is tax-free, with supplements, and sometimes subsidized housing.
Meritocracy, however, is entirely new, not least because Catholic social doctrine has always been averse to neo-liberalism.
The Vatican has viewed the ideas espoused by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s as leading to an amoral materialism not much better than communism.