Do you think our Catholic church need to get rid of stipends?


The annual report is posted on our diocesan website every year. And at the parish level I post our annual report.

Your parish has one, you just have to ask. Same for the diocese.


That is probably NOT what is happening. The diocese does not just keep a certain amount or a percent.

If their suggested donation is $10 then that’s what the send for the Masses. Whether they ask one priest to say 5 Masses or they ask a Mission society to say 100 Masses, they still send $10 for each Mass.

Anything above the $10 the diocese can legitimately keep for something like (but not necessarily) adding to the retirement fund. That doesn’t mean it is the only source of the retirement fund; but that it’s just added to it.

Also, as I said, sometimes people give less than the suggested donation. So if one person gives 15 and another gives 5 and 8 others give 10 each, the diocese asks a retired priest to say 10 Masses and sends him $100.

By keeping things even at $10 per Mass, the diocese doesn’t have to decide “which priest gets the $5 Mass and which one gets the $50 Mass?” Each one gets $10 per Mass.

As I wrote earlier, they are most likely giving the Mission society $300 and requesting 30 Masses, even though the Society would be willing to take only $200.

Just because the Society is offering you a “discount” (again I don’t like that word) that does not mean that the diocese is failing to send them the full $300.

Based on standard practice among diocese, I can safely say that this is almost certainly the practice.

Unless someone from either the Society or the diocese told you that the diocese is keeping any of the money, there’s no reason to assume that they are.

If they ask the donor for $10 per Mass then that is what they send to the priest or the society, $10 per Mass. That’s how it works.


No, we don’t need to get rid of stipends.

What we need to get rid of is abuse that is typically put into place by the laity.

Typically, the pastoral committees are the ones who suggest the “set stipend fees” for things like weddings, etc. It’s also the lay employees who typically create the strict rules. Some parishes have set those prices years ago when the parish make up was different, and they still keep it because that’s the way it’s been.

Of course father signs off on it, but it’s typically the laity who are inflexible with these.

These are abuses that need to rectified. But no, we should not implement a blank “no stipends” rule.

Perhaps the best compromise would be to simply called them “suggested donation amounts” since most people don’t know what a “stipend” is anymore.


One practical purpose that they serve is that by asking for a donation for each Mass, we ensure that people put some effort (yes, monetary effort) into making the request.

If we were to have a “no stipends ever” policy, I can promise you, I can absolutely assure you, that there would be many people out there who would regularly go to the parish office with long typed lists of relatives and friends and say “I want a Mass for each one.” There would be no way of celebrating all those Mass intentions.

If just one person gave me a list of 100 names, it would take me over 3 months to celebrate all those Masses. What about the other 999 parishioners who also have requests?

I would never be able to keep up with all the requests. No priest could.


i appreciate all the effort you’re putting into this explanation, Father.


The laity is mostly who I worry about. I’ve read about one case of a priest who had a gambling addiction and was raiding a trust fund, but I really think that is rare. I also think the priests work so hard that if they wanted to spend some money on themselves, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. They aren’t riding around in a Rolls Royce sipping on Moet. it’s the lay people who work in the offices that concern me.


With the amount of casino gambling out there, and with the amount of paper money that the church receives, I’d say embezzling in on the upswing. Although not necessarily with priests.

I think there was one priest around here, but there have been other staff that have done this kind of thing near Pittsburgh


This is another reason why I stopped putting it in the collection for the most part. They still get a few paper dollars of my money for the blessed candles, but electronic donation = paper trail.


Lay people don’t ride around in Rolls Royces, sipping on Moet due to their salaries from the Church.

The few that work for the Church, who can afford such luxuries either:

  • have a spouse who makes a lot of money
  • inherited money
  • retired form their first career after making a lot of money (I personally know of two Parish Administrators who both used to have very high powered jobs before downsizing their career to become a Parish Admin - one was a partner at a law firm and the other a partner at an accounting firm
  • do other things on the side (write books, adjunct professor, speaking fees, etc

None of them are making a lot of money directly from the Church.


The lay people may not flash their money around, but I have read about several embezzling cases over the years, as someone else was just saying. There is paper money around, and often not a lot of oversight, and the people who have the jobs are not lavishly paid. My old boss (a judge) used to note that a lot of government workers were generally honest people, but when they saw a temptation, like they were overpaid 10,000 instead of 1,000 or they saw some money sitting out, they would succumb to it. I think this also happens to office workers.
Large companies have more auditors and people watching for this stuff. Small businesses, to which your average church office is more similar, don’t.


Yes, but don’t let 1 rotten apple spoil a whole truck full of apples

99.9% of people who work for the Catholic Church are honest people. Honestly, I believe these kinds of things happen more in Protestant circles due to the “corporate” structure of protestant churches and the fact that a lot of money can be made in Protestant churches.

People don’t work for the Catholic Church to make money, they do it because it’s a calling. But in protestant circles, it can really be seen as a career and some protestants can make good money.


Why don’t you get involved if you are so concerned?

I see a lot of people here (not you specifically) casting aspersions yet almost none of them even knows what goes on at their parish. People are making a TON of unsubstantiated accusations and innuendos on here.

As the person who does the book keeping for the parish and the stipend account, and who does it for FREE, I am starting to get insulted. We have excellent cash handling procedures and segregation of duties and the books must pass an annual parish audit from the finance council and an external audit by a professional accounting firm every 3 years.

Inform yourself, and if you find something lacking volunteer to change it. What I am seeing here is basically a bunch of pot shots from the peanut gallery, people who say “why doesn’t someone do something…”. You are someone.


First, because I work a lot of hours at my actual job, including a lot of hours outside “normal” working hours, to make money to pay my bills, support my family and donate to charity and the Church.

Second, because right now my job keeps me traveling on a regular basis through somewhere between 3 and 6 states. (I do a lot of traveling during my vacation times too. ) I can send donations to the churches I visit, and have three or four churches in the vicinity of my home, my hometown, my workplace that I consider my “parish churches”, but I cannot commit to a work or volunteer schedule at this time. I can’t even commit to a regular Adoration hour because I am never quite sure where I’ll be from one week to the next. Some day I will retire, and maybe things will be different then.

My mother gave literally years of her life to church volunteering. When I lived at home, I helped her with some of the activities. Believe me, we saw it all and what we didn’t see, we heard, and then some. if you want to take it as “casting aspersions”, fine, be self-righteous, but I spent enough years around churches, church offices, and also around criminal courts, to know that these are real concerns. People acting all outraged about them does not make them go away. And those of us who have money to donate, get huge numbers of donation requests from every church and charity under the sun; we’re careful about where the money goes.


That’s pretty uncalled for. Flagging.

You asked me, so I explained. I have no idea why you then scoff at the explanation. Maybe it would be better if you just stop responding to my posts if you have some personal issue with me.


We can agree to disagree.

What I’ve seen here are a lot of accusations against holy priests and lay workers with no substantiation and suggestions to get involved and informed met with “I’m too busy working a real job”.

That’s pretty insulting.


Well, it’s the truth. I AM too busy working my day job.


Never have to give it much thought! Another wonderful benefit of belonging to a parish served by Franciscan Friars!


Give more. Donate more. 10% of your assets? 50%? Pope Francis asked. But not in the form of stipend. (The last sentence is mine).


I heard a first-hand account of a protestant minister who was asked to travel some distance, like 200 miles, for some event – maybe it was to conduct a wedding ceremony. Maybe it was farther. But, when the ceremony was over, the person who had arranged for his presence just stiffed him of the money and commented that it was generous of this pastor to do this service. I know I don’t have the details right, because the figure of $1500 sticks in my memory, as the costs incurred by the travelling minister.

When my mother passed, I arranged for a Saturday funeral, which of course clashed with some scheduled weddings. So, a Sister was available for the service, which was conducted in the funeral home itself. I later invited her to the brunch at a nearby hotel, one of the best in town. Based on that story above, I gave her $500 as an honorarium. She did not conduct a funeral liturgy of any sort, just led some prayers for a few minutes. But, the money was for HER support, not for 10 minutes of actual service time. Giving her $500 was the cheapest part of the whole funeral, by the way.

Despite this and my previous comments, I am unclear on the whole idea of Mass stipends. I have been relatively poor for big parts of my life. I’ve been confused since my childhood about how to make money. How do people manage to get so much money? I’ve never figured it out. I did have a better-than-average income for my occupation, for a while, but that didn’t last long. I just thank God that I’ve had enough to survive.


How I would rejoice if that sentence is written in big letters in a poster in every parish. :pray:

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