Wednesday 16 October 2019

Most clergy can't hold a candle to Fr O'Donovan

John Cooney

FATHER Tadhg O'Donovan's conviction for tax offences is the most spectacular court case involving a cleric in recent times.

Not many, if any, of Ireland's 4,000-plus priests would be as well off as the diocese of Cloyne curate.

But a junior priest such as Fr O'Donovan would be on an average stipend of around €20,000-€25,000 a year, with parish priests probably hitting between €30,000-€40,000.

Much depends on whether a diocese -- there are 26 -- is relatively rich or its parishes are as poor as the proverbial church mouse.

However, an area which may now be looked at by the revenue authorities is the Mass-card donation to priests at funerals, baptisms and weddings.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that some priests do not list such payments to them on their tax returns. This may prove to be a lucrative investigation for Revenue.

Many priests,ostensibly on low incomes, can afford flashy cars, golf club fees and regular holidays.

In the absence of transparent church finances in most dioceses, the O'Donovan case may be a landmark in bringing more clergy into the tax net.

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