Fees for Sacraments

Hello, in my home diocese the parishes have been charging fees for sacraments (these fees are not low either) for example; $50 for baptism, $100 confirmation not including the class fees, $200 for furneral services. These fees are so steep for the local people that they have opted out of either receiving the sacrament/funeral mass, or have gone to a local protestant church for these sacraments. I actually called the parish priest about this and he told me that these were the rules in this diocese. I was very confused about this as I was always under the impression that Sacraments where not to be charged. I understand giving a donation but having a set charged seems unreasonible. Should I be able to talk to someone or do I just sit back and watch the Catholics in my hometown leave the Catholic Church and go to the more welcoming Protestant churches.

I have experienced the finance council wanting to charge for baptismal preparation. I agree that the parents could pay for the consumables but that wouldn’t come to more than $10. I figure that anything that is necessary to celebrate a baptism according to the Rite should be at the expense of the parish (i.e. the candle). I would love it if we baptized so many babies in a year that cost of the candles was an overwhelming burden. But at $4 per and ~20 baptisms, I’d be willing to pay for the darn things myself.

We charge $150 for a funeral but that goes to the cemetery committee and is used for maintenance. Again, not a large amount if you’re going to pay a grounds person and you only have maybe 10 funerals a year. Considering that some cemeteries charge $500 for a plot, $150 is cheap.

With Confirmation we charge for the preparation sessions and that’s based on the cost of the books, food used, etc. In no way, shape or form do we charge for the sacrament - heck, the bishop won’t even accept an honorarium from the parish for coming in to confer that sacrament.

Just about every parish will have a ‘charge’ for materials for any prep work,

But those are waived if the person is experiencing economic hardship.

No Sacrament would be denied if the person cannot pay the fee.

If a parish is attempting that, consult with the pastor, then, if necessary, with the local bishop.

These are not fees for sacraments. These are called offerings, and they are governed by canon law (universal church law) and particular law (diocesan law). The Ordinary (bishop) does indeed establish the offering amount for the diocese, and typically stipulates how the offerings are to be used-- for example, in our diocese the offerings go into the works of charity account, not to the pastor. We use the works of charity fund to give to the poor and needy in our community.

This is the main canon governing the offering for sacraments:

Can.* 848 The minister is to seek nothing for the administration of the sacraments beyond the offerings defined by competent authority, always taking care that the needy are not deprived of the assistance of the sacraments because of poverty.

Please note the last sentence. Those who cannot pay the offering may still receive the sacrament.

I can suggest a couple of things.

First, since you have already talked to your priest, I would encourage you to remind him of the provision in canon 848 regarding inability to give an offering.

Secondly, I suggest you contact the cHancery office or office of judicial vicar or whoever is th head of finances at the diocese and get a copy of any diocesan synod documents or executive decrees from your bishop or other document that specifies these offering in your diocese and how they are to be administered. (ours is in the Finance Manual available online on our diocesan website)

Thirdly, begin to educate parishioners on the offeringm (this would be an excellent role for the members of parish council who are also likely unaware of how this all works), how it is used (often people think the priest is pocketing that money when in fact he is not), why it is asked for/collected, what it is and is not (a fee for a sacrament) and how to receive the sacraments when one cannot afford such an offering.

Fourthly, if you feel the offerings are truly “too high” then I suggest you contact the Diocesan Finance Council AND the Bishop and give them a well-reasoned explanation of your position and suggestions on what you believe the offering should be and why.

Fees for things such as Sacramental workbooks used in preparation classes are distinct from the offerings given for Baptisms, Weddings etc…

But those too are to be waived if there is financial hardship.

JOHN 2:16

And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

They are DIRECTLY and PURPOSEFULLY disobeying the will of God.

I know that one needs to pay for the basic fees of workbooks and classroom electricty, but when I asked about the baptism I was told it was for the candle, $50 for a candle!

I think that the people that I have spoken with are just tired of these fees and feel that the Church is taken advantage of them.

Also there is very little catechism given to both children and adults, so they don’t seem to understand that there is so much more to the Church. I have tried to speak to many about this but they just find it easier to just to not go to church or just go to the Protestant churches which are so much more willing to help. I feel sad but I can understand that if the Church in this diocese is not willing to teach their faithful properly then naturally the faithful will go searching in other directions.

The other thing to consider is sometimes fees will be reduced depending on the services you use. If you want a private baptism with a large crowd, the fees may need to include things like heating, use of parish, etc. If you don’t mind one during Mass or regularly scheduled baptism time with other families, the fees may be less.

That especially goes for things like weddings. If you don’t mind a wedding with just the priest, 2 witnesses and the couple, they usually charge a lot less.

As has already been said, if there is a real financial situation most fees can be waived or paid for by the parish.

It takes money to run a parish.

Electricity, water, maintenance, insurance, etc. etc. In many parishes, the weekly offering doesn’t come close to meeting these requirements. The remainder needs to come from somewhere.

Our parish charges $250.00 for the use of the church for weddings, and believe me, that doesn’t even come close to covering the costs of running the heat/a-c, lights, water, and not to mention the cleaning crew. It is amazing the way some people leave the church when they’re done. (funerals too)

I agree with these, but the baptism is done in this parish seprately only not during Mass. Also when I asked about the fee I was told it was simple for the candle. :confused:

The problem that I usually see in situations like this is the same person that complains about having to spend $50 for a baptism, sees no problem spending hundreds of dollars for baptism party afterwards. The same person that complains about spending $200 for a wedding has no problem spending $20,000 for the wedding reception. I am not saying this is what you are saying, just many people that I have heard say the same thing, think that way until it is put into perspective for them.

Yes things cost money. The candle costs money, books cost money, electricity costs money. Different parishes, and dioceses have different ideas on where the money should come from and how much should be suplimented by the parish.

As I said, I am not talking about fees for the preparation or items associated with the sacrament (white garment, candle, etc).

I am talking about the sacramental offering and I believe that is what your priest is referring to also since you relay his statement regarding the diocesan standard.

Which is why I recommended the course of action above that includes educating the parish.

If you do not believe catechism is being properly carried out, again I suggest you contact the bishop. However, remember that catechism is only a supplement to the family-- parents are the primary educators of their children in the faith.

I find it sad so few parents are willing to step up to their God-ordained role in educating their own children, and are perfectly willing to blame everything on “the Church”. (I am not referring to you, I am referring to the many parents I deal with through my role as coordinator of religious education).

Luke 11:42

But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the alove of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

I think we are supposed to be offering voluntarly are we not ?

It depends on who told you this. They might not know where all the fees go. They might not know that the diocese says to charge x. They might not know that there are books and pamphlets also given out. Most people see the candle as the only tangible thing that someone actually receives at the baptism, so it is the simplest thing to say.

What is your point?

Basically it sounds like people might be living “The high life” with God’s $. If the offerings they are receiving are NOT enough to pay the bills then perhaps then there is a problem.

It is a shame you were told this, it simply isn’t true.

The offering amount is going to be set by the province of bishops:

Can. 1264 Unless the law has provided otherwise, it is for a meeting of the bishops of a province:

1/ to fix the fees for acts of executive power granting a favor or for the execution of rescripts of the Apostolic See, to be approved by the Apostolic See itself;

2/ to set a limit on the offerings on the occasion of the administration of sacraments and sacramentals.

Please note the wording: the amount set by the bishops is the limit. And refer back to the previous canon I quoted which stipulates the sacrament must still be administered without an offering.

You can see the wording for our diocese here in this link from our finance manual, look at #7:


I have seen this as well, but I have seen the people of this once very Catholic town go from from Catholism to Protestant to even just agnostic. I know that very few people from my home town even get married through the church and opt to just get married with the justice of the peace instead to avoid the cost of the wedding ($20 vs $200+ ) Children are not being baptised because of the cost. First communion classes are getting smaller and smaller, it is simply to expensive to put children in the classes. And my thing is even those who are in the class seem to not be learning a thing. None of the children who go through the classes, those who can offered it, seem to understand simple things like the True Presence.

I want to add that I no longer live in this diocese but I do have lots of family who are still in it. I have lived around the country and have never seen people who are so in need of a proper catechism as those in my home diocese. I am very sad when I go home and see the state of the Church there.

Do you think maybe that the cost of operating a parish may be more than the community can afford?

You know, the economy isn’t the best right now, and many people are struggling. Unfortunately, the light bill needs paid, insurance, water, etc. etc…

I think it is extremely rude and presumptious of you to assume that “people might be living the high life with God’s money”.

You have no knowledge of how this parish, or any other parish deals with their finances, and your comment is way out of line.

In addition, if you would actually read the thread, you would see that if cost is an issue for an individual, fees/offerings are waived. But, I’m guessing you already have your mind made up.

It was told to me by the office secretary as well as the parish priest.

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