Can a priest charge for funerals?

A friend of mine recently told me that the priest from her church requires a fee of $400 for every funeral Mass he presides over. I always thought that there was never a “set” amount for this service, but maybe a recommended amount according to what the family could afford. Also, does this money go to the church or does the priest keep this?

It sounds as though your friend may be confusing the amount a parish may charge for the use of the facilities and for paying the musicians with a stipend that goes to the priest for his services. While dioceses and/or individual parishes may set a fee for the use of diocesan and/or parish property and the employment of liturgical ministers, such fees can be relaxed for those in need.

Separate from such fees, which go to the parish, are stipends customarily given to the priest for his services. While it is just to give to the priest what one can afford because such stipends contribute to his income, he may preside at the funeral Mass without payment for those he knows cannot pay and he cannot “charge” for the sacrament of the Eucharist by denying a funeral Mass to someone unable to pay. As for ordinary amounts for stipends, I have never heard of $400 stipends so I’m guessing that this fee of which your friend was told was for the parish. One can always call the parish office to confirm the customary amount offered to a priest in that area for Mass stipends.

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