Saturday 25 February 2017

Priests' pay is cut as collections at Mass fall

Louise Hogan and Ralph Riegel

CATHOLIC priests in the cash-strapped Dublin diocese have had their pay slashed by 9pc due to plunging donations from Mass-goers.

An outspoken cleric has warned that the financial problems faced by the church could leave some priests stacking supermarket shelves.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, is this week meeting parish councils and finance committees as part of a major review of finances.

Donations from Dublin parishioners to the fund that is used to pay priests and run the churches have plummeted by 16pc in the past three years, the Archdiocese of Dublin confirmed last night.

Some of Ireland's biggest dioceses are now battling to cope with falling collections and soaring expenses -- as well as the cost of extra childcare-protection and clerical-abuse compensation claims.

It is believed that cuts implemented by the Dublin Archdiocese are being repeated throughout the country.

Fr Brendan Quinlivan, communications director of the Killaloe Diocese, said this was the "trend across the country".

The 9pc cut to Dublin priests' basic income follows a 6pc cut last year -- resulting in a 15pc drop in earnings in two years.

The basic income of a curate in the Dublin Archdiocese is now €24,079 a year, plus up to €2,820, depending on length of service. Parish priests get an additional allowance of €4,827, which would bring their maximum total to €31,726.

This does not include taxes or income levies but priests do live rent-free and have items such as health insurance paid for them.

Fr Joe McGuane, a priest based in Youghal, Co Cork, warned that some clerics could end up "filling supermarket shelves at night".

Priests are supported by the first collection at Mass and in Dublin the monies go into a Common Fund controlled by a committee of priests.

Compensation

"When people give more to this fund, priests get more -- when it goes down, they get less," a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Dublin said.

According to a letter from the committee administering the Common Fund for the Dublin Archdiocese and which has been seen by the 'Irish Catholic' newspaper, there is a "very real incentive" for priests to ensure the first collection starts to increase again.

The Archdiocese of Dublin saw its income plummet by €7m between 2009 and 2010 -- dropping from €66.2m to €59.4m.

Irish Independent

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