Are Mass Stipends Necessary?


#1

I would like to begin this thread by saying that I do not find anything wrong with Mass stipends, or, as they may also be called, Mass offerings. I do NOT think they are a form of simony.

In the early Church the people would directly have provided the bread and wine for Mass. As time went on they would provide money to purchase the bread and wine rather than provide these items directly. People would also offer money to have Masses said for various intentions. These financial offerings were part of the priest's income.

Times are now very different. Priests are not reliant of the faithful's offerings, tithes, benefices, etc. to provide their income. Priests are now paid salaries. Because priests now receive a regular income do you think it is necessary to make a financial payment to a priest for him to offer Mass?

I would be interested to hear people's constructive, positive answers to this question.


#2

When I had my wedding we paid a suggested donation. The priests are paid a salary, but they are still living a vow of poverty and they are almost always working far more than the normal 40 hour work week. I think that when a person can support a priest a bit more by giving him some money they should do so.


#3

[quote="Iheartcoffee, post:2, topic:301768"]
When I had my wedding we paid a suggested donation. The priests are paid a salary, but they are still living a vow of poverty and they are almost always working far more than the normal 40 hour work week. I think that when a person can support a priest a bit more by giving him some money they should do so.

[/quote]

That is a good point to make.

I don't think priests make vows and they don't make a vow of poverty. They are not restricted with regard to material things in the same way as religious.

I would agree that priests are not paid are large salary. It would probably be inappropriate for them to be paid large salaries. While their salary is not high they do have other benefits. For example, a priest does not have to find money to pay a mortgage or rent out of their salary. While priests are not high earners I do not think those in the developed world are poor. They do work long hours but I see the priesthood as a vocation rather than a job. Many other people work long hours. An example would be doctors. I don't disagree with us supporting our priests. I just wonder if in the modern world we need to supplement their income, which was necessary in times gone by.

I'm not sure that the money always goes to the priest anyway. Their is a diocese where Mass stipends are paid directly into diocesan funds and the priest doesn't receive the money. The dicoese has done this because they pay the priest a salary. The diocese puts these monies into its various funds for priestly support, such as those which support sick or retired priests.


#4

I do not know about any of you, but if you think that just because a priest lives in a rectory he gets a "free ride" and that his stipend is adequate, you must live on another planet.
I know that in one Diocese in a major citiy the stipend for a Diocesan Priest is only
US$150.00 per month. That will pay for the mans laundry bill with little left over! And yes, the only laundry provided by most rectories is for the bed linens and towels. And, for what it's worth, very few Diocesan Priests take a vow of poverty. The vow of poverty usually is for priests in religious orders, and even they have personal expenses in the modern world.


#5

[quote="George_Stegmeir, post:4, topic:301768"]
I do not know about any of you, but if you think that just because a priest lives in a rectory he gets a "free ride" and that his stipend is adequate, you must live on another planet.
I know that in one Diocese in a major citiy the stipend for a Diocesan Priest is only
US$150.00 per month. That will pay for the mans laundry bill with little left over! And yes, the only laundry provided by most rectories is for the bed linens and towels. And, for what it's worth, very few Diocesan Priests take a vow of poverty. The vow of poverty usually is for priests in religious orders, and even they have personal expenses in the modern world.

[/quote]

$150 per month? That can't be average.


#6

[quote="Matthew_Holford, post:3, topic:301768"]

I would agree that priests are not paid are large salary.

[/quote]

You might be surprised. I seem to remember that priest in our diocese get paid something like 55 - 65k/year. This is about the median salary for other professionals in my area. Basically every parish pays into a pool and each priest receives the same salary regardless if they are in a parish with 100 or 10,000 in attendance each Sunday. They are not rich, but as my father would say "it's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick." I don't begrudge them the pay since they are essentially on-call 7/24/365.

[quote="Matthew_Holford, post:3, topic:301768"]

I'm not sure that the money always goes to the priest anyway.

[/quote]

That's true in our diocese. I believe that stipends (aka stole fees) are given to charity. I think most of the stole fees go to caring for retired priests and religious. For that reason I have no problem with stipends.


#7

A Priests living arrangements vary a great deal. Those in orders may have to give their pay check, to the order, as they support each other. Priests are pulled in ten different directions at any time. If they commit an hour of their time to you. Should you not be thankful? If the priest doesn't want a stipend he will tell you. The last time I paid one, the priest's face lit up, and he said he was waiting to get enough money to buy a few fishing lewers. He said some one gave him a pole, & that he hadn't been fishing since he was a boy!


#8

I believe Our Men in Collar deserve their pay...

Our LORD HIMSELF told the apostles to take the money if offered...

I believe in gifting Priests with money. If I could, I would personally give them s gifts every month 50-200$. They use A LOT of gas I could imagine, running from sick call to sick call, Groceries (I dont want a Priest fainting of hunger at the altar ;) :D), and of course, their own personal needs etc.

Our Men in Collar need our Support!!


#9

[quote="Matthew_Holford, post:3, topic:301768"]
Priests are not reliant of the faithful's offerings, tithes, benefices, etc. to provide their income. Priests are now paid salaries.

[/quote]

Umm.. and from whom do you think those salaries come? "The faithful's offerings", of course!

Because priests now receive a regular income do you think it is necessary to make a financial payment to a priest for him to offer Mass?

Hmm... I'm confused what, in fact, you're addressing. Are you talking about the stipends that the priest receives for each Mass he offers (i.e., daily)? Or are you talking about the offerings that the faithful provide at special events (i.e., Masses that they request, or for weddings/funerals/baptisms)? These seem to be distinct questions. We seem to be conflating them unfairly...

I don't think priests make vows

Promises, not vows. Your point...?

and they don't make a vow of poverty. They are not restricted with regard to material things in the same way as religious.

Correct: secular (i.e., diocesan) priests do not take a vow or make a promise of poverty -- that is, they do not promise that they will own nothing.

While their salary is not high they do have other benefits. For example, a priest does not have to find money to pay a mortgage or rent out of their salary.

And, if they had to pay 'room and board', then a reasonable salary would be, roughly, $25-30K more, don't you think? Unless you're asserting that stipends are of that order of magnitude, I'm not certain what you're attempting to say here...

They do work long hours but I see the priesthood as a vocation rather than a job.

"The laborer deserves his wages"... unless he's a priest? ;)

Many other people work long hours. An example would be doctors.

Right. And they earn peanuts, you're saying? ;)


#10

[quote="Usige, post:6, topic:301768"]
You might be surprised. I seem to remember that priest in our diocese get paid something like 55 - 65k/year. This is about the median salary for other professionals in my area.

[/quote]

Wow. Can you do me a favor? When you're at Mass this weekend, would you mind asking your priest if he makes $60K/year? As I recall, priests in my diocese might -- if they're lucky -- make 1/3 of that... (although, if memory serves, it might be more like 1/4 or 1/5...)


#11

[quote="TrueLight, post:5, topic:301768"]

That's stipend, not salary. We seem to be playing fast and loose with vocabulary, here. It might be worthwhile to define exactly what we mean by the terms that we're using... ;)


#12

[quote="Gorgias, post:10, topic:301768"]
Wow. Can you do me a favor? When you're at Mass this weekend, would you mind asking your priest if he makes $60K/year? As I recall, priests in my diocese might -- if they're lucky -- make 1/3 of that... (although, if memory serves, it might be more like 1/4 or 1/5...)

[/quote]

I believe our bishop makes about 35k, so a priest making in the 60's......that would be interesting, if true.


#13

[quote="Gorgias, post:11, topic:301768"]
That's stipend, not salary. We seem to be playing fast and loose with vocabulary, here. It might be worthwhile to define exactly what we mean by the terms that we're using... ;)

[/quote]

I believe by stipend, the OP is referring to the money you are required to give a priest/parish for offering up a Mass for a special intention. I don't think he's referring to weddings and such.

In other words, the $10 - $20 it would cost for Father Smith to offer a mass for Aunt Sally, who fell away from the faith.


#14

[quote="Usige, post:6, topic:301768"]
You might be surprised. I seem to remember that priest in our diocese get paid something like 55 - 65k/year. This is about the median salary for other professionals in my area. Basically every parish pays into a pool and each priest receives the same salary regardless if they are in a parish with 100 or 10,000 in attendance each Sunday. They are not rich, but as my father would say "it's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick." I don't begrudge them the pay since they are essentially on-call 7/24/365.

That's true in our diocese. I believe that stipends (aka stole fees) are given to charity. I think most of the stole fees go to caring for retired priests and religious. For that reason I have no problem with stipends.

[/quote]

Were they provided with room and board as well? That seems a little high for a priest if they don't have tp pay room and board.


#15

[quote="Gorgias, post:10, topic:301768"]
Wow. Can you do me a favor? When you're at Mass this weekend, would you mind asking your priest if he makes $60K/year? As I recall, priests in my diocese might -- if they're lucky -- make 1/3 of that... (although, if memory serves, it might be more like 1/4 or 1/5...)

[/quote]

[quote="Tarpeian_Rock, post:12, topic:301768"]
I believe our bishop makes about 35k, so a priest making in the 60's......that would be interesting, if true.

[/quote]

I remember Father mentioning it during a discussion earlier this year when we were talking about the HHS mandate, how benefits are provided in the diocese and how he supported losing his medical benefits rather than be forced to support abortion and sterilization. By extension we talked about how retired religious and priests are provided benefits and retirement. This article is a repost from the diocesan news paper setting 50k as the salary in July 2005 so another 5 - 10k 8 years later would fall in line with what Father mentioned.

[quote="TrueLight, post:14, topic:301768"]
Were they provided with room and board as well? That seems a little high for a priest if they don't have tp pay room and board.

[/quote]

You make a good point. In the same discussion mentioned above Father also mentioned how they all have to pay rent or some purchased there own houses. Most of the parishes in my diocese do not have rectories so the priests have to find housing at current market prices. They also have to cover all their utilities, water, food, etc. out of their salary, so knock off say 20k for living expenses (I live in an exburb with fairly high housing and water prices).

Part of the reason the diocese pays well is so that priest can build a nest egg to help pay for their retirement. In other diocese a retired priest might live in a parish rectory, but they can't live in rectories that don't exist so they have to have some type of savings to live through retirement.

I don't know what other diocese are like, but we generally have 1 priest per parish (some times they cover 2 or 3 parishes) so in essence they are solely responsible for the spiritual and temporal needs of the parish. If that means they receive a living wage great.


#16

I think people need to understand what exactly a stipend is.

A stipend is a contribution toward the support of the priest upon whose acceptance the priest assumes a grave obligation of justice to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the intention of the contributor.

I don't think this is so much about supporting a priest who already gets paid, as it is more of a contract between the priest and the person giving the stipend.

The issue of Mass stipends actually gets pretty complicated, as there are strict laws governing the acceptance of them and the obligations that must be fulfilled when one is accepted. For example, if you ask a priest to offer Mass for a specific event such as a surgery and give him a stipend, he is under a grave obligation to offer Mass for that intention prior to the event taking place. If the Mass is said after, he has the obligation to make restitution to that person. It gets a lot more complicated after that.


#17

[quote="Gorgias, post:9, topic:301768"]
Umm.. and from whom do you think those salaries come? "The faithful's offerings", of course!

[/quote]

I am talking about those occasions when you might give a priest, say £10, to say a Mass for someone who has died. I am not talking about regular giving to the parish. I fully appreciate the need to financially support the Church.

[quote="Gorgias, post:9, topic:301768"]
Hmm... I'm confused what, in fact, you're addressing. Are you talking about the stipends that the priest receives for each Mass he offers (i.e., daily)? Or are you talking about the offerings that the faithful provide at special events (i.e., Masses that they request, or for weddings/funerals/baptisms)? These seem to be distinct questions. We seem to be conflating them unfairly...

[/quote]

See my comments above.

[quote="Gorgias, post:9, topic:301768"]
Promises, not vows. Your point...?

[/quote]

Please can you explain how taking a sentence out of context is conducive to fruitful discussion.

[quote="Gorgias, post:9, topic:301768"]
And, if they had to pay 'room and board', then a reasonable salary would be, roughly, $25-30K more, don't you think? Unless you're asserting that stipends are of that order of magnitude, I'm not certain what you're attempting to say here...

[/quote]

I was saying that when talking about a priest's salary we should not look at that figure alone. We need to look at the whole picture.

[quote="Gorgias, post:9, topic:301768"]
"The laborer deserves his wages"... unless he's a priest? ;)

[/quote]

As I do not have any recollection of saying this I wonder if you would be kind enough to refer me back to the post where I said this.

[quote="Gorgias, post:9, topic:301768"]
Right. And they earn peanuts, you're saying? ;)

[/quote]

You obviously missed the point. The point I made was that priests are not unique in the time commitment they make.


#18

Just need to correct a misunderstanding here. Secular priests, (ie diocesian priests) do not make a vow of poverty.


#19

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:16, topic:301768"]
I think people need to understand what exactly a stipend is.

I don't think this is so much about supporting a priest who already gets paid, as it is more of a contract between the priest and the person giving the stipend.

The issue of Mass stipends actually gets pretty complicated, as there are strict laws governing the acceptance of them and the obligations that must be fulfilled when one is accepted. For example, if you ask a priest to offer Mass for a specific event such as a surgery and give him a stipend, he is under a grave obligation to offer Mass for that intention prior to the event taking place. If the Mass is said after, he has the obligation to make restitution to that person. It gets a lot more complicated after that.

[/quote]

I think there is understanding of the stipend. Of course, it is not absolutely essential to give a priest a stipend for these purposes. Priests are bound to apply Mass for an intention requested by those who are too poor to be able to afford a stipend.

In the past stipends were a source of income for a priest. For some it would have been a very welcome addition to a meagre income. My question is now priests are paid a salary by their diocese is it necessary for the faithful to supplement a priest's income in this way. I am not trying to say a priest doesn't deserve a means of providing for himself. As the remuneration of the clergy has changed do we think stipends, i.e. Mass offerings, are necessary today?


#20

I've known priests who were military chaplains making a very good salary who never accepted stipends for Masses. There are also diocesan Pastors who never accept stipends.

Priests in my diocese are paid by the parishes. Diocesans earn about 26K per year and they are provided room and board, a part of which is a taxable benefit. They are also paid a $450/mo car allowance unless they are using a diocesan car (the case in our parish).

The Mass stipend in our diocese is $10, but as everyone should know, if the requester can't afford $10 the priest has to accept less or nothing and still celebrate the Mass.

Do they need them? Guess it depends on the priest. How they treat the stipends varies greatly from priest to priest.

Our former pastors were religious who had taken a vow of poverty. They were provided with a car for which the parish assumed all expenses. They were provided room and board and given a non-taxable $1000/mo stipend per the contract with their Congregation. One donated his Mass stipends to the parish either directly or in the form of office equipment which he paid for and left behind; the other charged everything from his toothpaste and razor blades to the parish. One lived happily on rice and beans, the other wanted prime rib & lamb served on fine china. One washed his dishes by hand, the other had a $5000 (incl. tax & shipping) commercial dishwasher installed in the rectory for 2 people. One would question the wisdom of spending money on a new ritual book for the parish; the other purchased the complete OED for his personal library and charged it to the parish.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.