Catholic priests do not get wages; instead they get stipends whose amount is largely discretionary with the bishop who considers the total financial support given by the faithful to the diocese. Hence priests do not have salary contracts. Money is given to priests of course because the church wants them to be free of financial worry over their basic needs that would otherwise detract them from their work. The work includes spreading spiritual values, administering the parish, tending to the church edifice, ministering on call 24/7 to the sick and the dying around the parish, celebrating Mass with the people, doing baptisms and at times exorcism.
Catholic priests consider their ministry a calling and not employment, and so are less concerned about compensation than normal employees who work for pay. Catholic priests also believe that the reward for their dedication is heaven, and not the financial package that they might receive on a regular basis. For this reason Catholic priests are paid less compared to their counterparts in other denominations or faiths. Another reason for the smaller pay is that Catholic priests do not have or are not permitted to take on wives, so they would also be free from the need to support a family and the distractions that come with it.
Even when a Catholic parish is poor, I have not heard of Catholic priests assigned there preaching about the need to support the Church (except when there are special projects that need to be funded), preaching tithing incessantly and being generous, and, using bible verses cleverly presented, promising huge blessings to come from these. The reason is that priests, as disciples of Jesus, do not want to be misunderstood, nor do they want people to misunderstand the message of the bible in Luke 10:1-23 which tasks Christians to preach the Good News, bringing no money with them but living only on what the people offer them. In this way too, priests learn the humility to accept support from their parishioners.
In contrast, I have heard of some non-Catholic pastors, especially those who preach a so-called “prosperity gospel,” raking it in. The traditional defense of these affluent pastors, of course, is that they have to be the living models of the prosperity which the gospel according to their preaching is all about. They are unfazed by the scandal they cause, especially among people who struggle daily for food, shelter and clothing. In fact, they turn the tables around by saying those people are poor because precisely they still do not know that the gospel message is really about prosperity for believers. Which is of course a call in itself for even those poor people to financially support the prosperity-church!
So, why do Catholic priests get paid? Certainly not to get more than what they need, or worse, to get rich, but like all of us who live in this world, to keep body and soul together and to meet basic expenses involved in the nature of the work they have dedicated themselves to. We should pray for Catholic priests, especially the secular priests who have no organization to support them (unlike priests that belong to religious orders, such as the Jesuits), who willingly accept small financial support (and almost always uncertainty in old age, if they live in poor countries) because they believe they are needed workers in the vineyard of the Lord, where the harvest is plentiful but only have few workers. God Bless You.