by Viviane Hewitt in Rome THE Vatican's 1,200 malcontent lay employees have appealed to their globetrotting "boss", who condemns injustice and exploitation worldwide, to put his own house in order.
"Holiness, please make a pastoral visit within the Vatican to reiterate Christian social doctrine to our administrators", is the latest appeal this week from the Holy See's lay workforce, in a state of "Industrial agitation", albeit watered down, since 1985.
The plea — the strongest yet — to the Pope to inspect conditions on his own doorstep comes in a blunt editorial this week in the monthly bulletin of the Association of Lay Vatican Employees (ADLV).
The ADLV grievances include a pay freeze since 1985, an inadequate pension scheme, a denial of means to pursue workers' rights and arbitrary decisions by hierarchy on lay working conditions.
The association also complains that although in January 1989 9 the Pope inaugurated the Holy See's "Office of Work of the Apostolic See", designed to monitor working conditions and arbitrate in disputes, it is still not fully functional.
It protests that the Vatican
still considers the lay association an "after-hours" pastime grdup and has failed to fix an annual ceiling of hours for union meetings.
Employees in the editorial of "bitterness" request that "the dignity of each worker be honoured, that economic and social rights be recognised, protected and promoted".
The ADLV said it was now addressing its grievances directly — and publicly — to John Paul II because it had acted with discretion since 1985 and had achieved no results.
Four years ago, Vatican laymen downed tools for three hours in the first strike in the Holy See's history but donated their time-out pay to the Secretariat of State for third world charities.
This year, custodians of the Vatican Museums have threatened several summer strikes and in May 500 ADLV members marched through the Vatican City to the Apostolic Palace They stood in silent protest underneath the windows of the papal apartments to stress what they called their "malaise" at the lack of any response to two recuests for a special papal audience.
The ADLV's initiatives, increasingly less discreet, also reflect disappointment among some clergy in Vatican administration that John Paul, a protagonist on the world