Priests in the Dublin archdiocese have been urged to contact their parishioners directly for support, as it faces a mounting financial crisis caused by the Covid-19 curbs.
In a letter, they were strongly encouraged by the priest in charge of providing the money needed to pay priests’ wages to spell out “the collapse” that has occurred in the archdiocese’s income.
"You might be surprised by people's generosity, just as I have been," wrote Fr Paul Taylor, chair of the executive committee of the archdiocese's Common Fund, which finances its priests' incomes.
“Please appeal to them to contribute to the Easter dues (offering). Why not send them a short letter, enclosing a dues envelope and a stamped, addressed envelope?”
“Since the crisis arose, and public gatherings of the faithful for the Sunday Eucharist have not been possible, the revenue that pays our stipends has collapsed,” he went on, in a letter approved by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
The €23,000-a-year wages for priests, and the €28,000 a year due to parish priests, is now to be cut by a quarter. Senior clergy had accepted a cut on March 20th, but it was decided to hold off for March and April.
Now, however, Fr Taylor said the archdiocese’s funds are “greatly depleted, putting in jeopardy the possibility to maintain current stipends for the next months”.
As “an emergency measure”, it had been “reluctantly decided that from May, priests will have to receive a 25 per cent reduction in their monthly payment. This will be reviewed one month after Sunday Mass celebrations can resume.”
Priests experiencing financial difficulty are advised to contact relevant senior personnel at the archdiocese.
Fr Taylor asked the priests “to attach to your parish website as soon as possible the ‘donate’ facility” organised by the archdiocese. It offered “an easier way to support financially the priests of the parish, the parish itself and the Share collection”, he said.
Facilitating “cashless giving” was “not only safer and healthier, it allows what is generously given by the people to be credited to them, and enhances the ‘tax back’ opportunity for the parish,” he said.
In Dublin, priests are supported by the first collection at Masses.
Priests do not qualify for the Government Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. In Ireland, generally priests in parishes are considered self-employed for social welfare and tax purposes .