Is the Church turning to business?

For fanatics out there, please dont say comments like “dont be fooled by heretics!!” or “Ignore those people claiming our church false!!” because its getting pretty old. i personally am a zealous Catholic and understand her doctrines more than any person i personally know, but i have an issue with the sacraments that require a sum of money for the priest to commission and especially in some extreme cases, the parish offers an “ordinary marriage” for the poorer ones and a “special marriage” for those who can afford. It seems the church is distinguishing between the rich and the poor. And especially in cases where you have to pay a sum of money just for your dead loved one to be mentioned in mass. (here, if you paid over P200, your deceased friend’s name would be mentioned, if not, it would belong “…and all those who died in Christ”). Isnt that a “bit” selective? Is that mandatory? can there ever be a free marriage (or any other sacrament) with exactly the same services between any classes of people?

im sorry if my question is misleading but i still dont know how money runs around the parish aside from the passing of the basket during mass.

thanks in advance,

fidei

Fidei, from one Filipino to another…

unfortunately running a parish has costs. especially in the Philippines where electricity is expensive (i heard there was another rate hike just last week). also, unlike here in North America where parishoners are registered and regularly contribute to a parish, in the Philippines we know thats not the case. a parish always has to count on random donatons from people which can be anything from a few centavos to thousands of pesos per family per sunday.

the money charged by the parish are needed for the overhead costs of running the parish during the celebration of the sacrament. i know this doesn’t bode well for the image of the Church as people mistakenly think you’re buying the sacrament.

when a wedding occurs, especially in the Philippines, its part of the tradition of our culture that the church will be decorated with flowers, the red carpet will be rolled out, and of course some of the staff may be required to come to work at a special time when the wedding is to be held. all these cost money, not only for during the wedding but even after when there is extra effort to clean up, especially the flowers that were scattered for the newly married couple.

now, this would apply to all other sacraments or other special masses and prayers that would require extra time and resources from the church. the graces from God are free as they should be. unfortunately the utilities company and the employees that work there are not.

It’s not just the Philippines, it happens in the US, as well. As I’ve mentioned several times, when we looked at getting married, parishes outside out diocese wanted to charge $2000 - $2500. Our diocese cathedral also wanted $2000. Our parish (in which I was registered) wanted $1000. And all of that excluded things like organist ($75 extra), alter server ($20 extra), priest ($300-$500 extra), and cleanup ($50 extra, if I remember correctly). I get that electricity isn’t free, but it’s also not $1000 - $2500 for a 30 minute Rite of Marriage.

I get why parishes charge money for these things - you should make some sort of sacrifice to show reverence to God on your wedding day, but it really bothers me that the sacrifice is monetary.

i don’t think its about the sacrifice, but the fact that there are expenses incurred by the parish and somehow they have to find a way to make up for it. utilities are just one example, but there are many other things.

and i mean, if you can spend thousands of dollars on your caterer, why not on your church?

You’re assuming that everyone spends thousands of dollars on a caterer.

definitely not. thats why in the Philippines there is a smaller fee for a simpler celebration of the Sacrament

if you’re not going for an all-out wedding, then you should definitely speak with your parish about a simple ceremony. don’t call in the organist, don’t have flowers along the isles. perhaps someone from your family or one of your friends can decorate and cleanup the church.

so if i got this correctly, the ones theyre paying are for services, the bill of materials, and others… now, i can agree that we need to bequeath $$$ but im just disturbed of how the parish could offer a selection of marriage as “special or ordinary” it should depend on the ones to be wed of what their budget could take not the church itself shouldn’t it?. For me, it just looks like profit making. and especially ironic for the church’s part to distinguish between the rich and the poor.

and another thing, the name mentioning in mass, do you really need to subsidize just for the priest to mention a relative’s name in mass? does even that cost $$$?

and lastly, does the priest get paid for his services?

shouldn’t we “give what they want to recieve and ask for nothing in return”?

Im sorry, but of all the practices in the CC ive taken in wholeheartedly by the Holy Spirit in His Church, but none of it all causes me confusion than this.

I also get that we need the $$$ to run the sacrament from the utilities, invitations, electricity, etc, but let’s make that a completely isolated topic now.

but for the priest to administer the sacrament itself, like the march, the prayers in the altar, incense or any rite needed in the sacrament etc, is that still included in the bill?

To my knowledge parishes WILL, in cases of genuine need, either waive the fee entirely or allow a couple to contribute what they can afford. Have you asked?

As for churches outside your own parish - well, some churches are far more popular than others, and if they started giving discounts/freebies to non-parishioners, they’d be swamped.

It’s actually a very good thing to get people away from the idea of ‘oh, I’ve got to be married in the prettiest church, with the most elaborate ceremony with all the frills and trappings’. It’s the sacrament, and only the sacrament, that matters, however simply it’s celebrated. And it’s a good thing for the church to empasise that.

And yes, the ceremony will still be performed regardless of how much or little you pay. Incense isn’t required for a valid ceremony. I don’t know how costly it is, but if it is expensive it might not be used.

If a mass is being celebrated for a special intention (for example, for a family member who is sick) then it is common to give the priest a stipend. Same thing for marriage.

Priests are paid, but not very well.

Fidei, the Church is not distinguishing between the rich and the poor, its just being practical. there are people who can afford it and want the church decorated. they just anticipate this request and probably have contacts with decorating and flower people, among others.

diocesan priests are paid a monthly salary. but no, they do not earn a “per baptism” or “per wedding” salary or bonus or whatever you might call it. the salary is fixed and is more for their living expenses. it is their duty to confer or witness Sacraments. in a wedding, priests or deacons are merely witnesses of the Church.

to you it may look like profit making, but what seems is not always the case. the truth is, you don’t know where the money goes and you’re only making an assumption. so approach it with humility and believe it serves a good purpose. you should realize that the money that goes to each and every parish funds many more things than just its day-to-day operations. a lot of it goes into wider operations such as charities, hospitals and other missions of the Catholic Church.

the Sacrament itself is free. however, the mere fact that there is a ceremony and a Mass that is going on, then the parish itself is using utilities and other resources.

you can liken it to our conversation right now. talking to me is free. however, for me to talk to you on this forum, i have to pay for the electricity of my laptop, my internet access, my laptop, and for you to read my posts you have to do the same. but what i say is free for everyone to read. but you can’t read it without paying for the internet and electricity and your computer

The above prices do not include decoration. Churches in the US will not decorate / take down decorations for you. They also don’t include the organist or priest.

You can have a few hundred dollar ceremony - in the parish office. That works if you just have two witnesses, but if your family wants to attend, you have to move to the church building and pay thousands of dollars. So more than 10 “witnesses” = $2000 - $2500. Doesn’t seem fair.

you can liken it to our conversation right now. talking to me is free. however, for me to talk to you on this forum, i have to pay for the electricity of my laptop, my internet access, my laptop, and for you to read my posts you have to do the same. but what i say is free for everyone to read. but you can’t read it without paying for the internet and electricity and your computer

But, really, how much does that cost? Let’s say I own a taxi. You get in and I drive you 3 miles in 5 minutes. Then I tell you that the ride cost $500. Would that be fair? After all, I did have to pay for the gas.

Well, if you get into my taxi and I say upfront ‘your trip will cost $500’, at that point you can say ‘rack off, that’s too much’.

One of two things will happen at that point:

a) We will negotiate a lower price (and I’ve never in my life heard of a church absolutely insisting on their fees being paid in full by those of their parishioners who inform them at any point that they are in a situation of financial hardship, and on the contrary HAVE heard many times of fees being waived or reduced), or

b) You’ll say ‘what the hey, it’s a special occasion, I can afford to splurge’ and pay up.

Again, lots of parishes WILL waive or reduce fees for parishioners who are in genuine financial need. If you can easily afford the ‘luxuries’, but decide to be a cheapskate, then why do you deserve better than the basics?

By the way - I’ve never before heard of weddings in any Catholic parish routinely taking place anywhere outside the actual church building. At the very least permission would be required from the Bishop for such to happen, and there doesn’t look to be any reasonable justification of his granting of that permission. Sounds highly irregular.

So if a Catholic wedding is too expensive, I should tell the Church to “rack off” and have a secular ceremony? There’s only one taxi in this town going to where I want to go, so it has a monopoly on pricing.

a) We will negotiate a lower price (and I’ve never in my life heard of a church absolutely insisting on their fees being paid in full by those of their parishioners who inform them at any point that they are in a situation of financial hardship, and on the contrary HAVE heard many times of fees being waived or reduced), or

Now you get into what does “financial hardship” entail? If someone makes over $100,000 / year but has $200,000 in student loans is that hardship? What about a couple making $50,000/yr? Are you going to ask for copies of people’s tax returns and student loan bills to judge their “ability to pay”?

Or do we want to make getting married in the Catholic Church more like buying a used car? “I’ll give you $700.” “I can go as low as $1100. No less.”

b) You’ll say ‘what the hey, it’s a special occasion, I can afford to splurge’ and pay up.

Again, lots of parishes WILL waive or reduce fees for parishioners who are in genuine financial need. If you can easily afford the ‘luxuries’, but decide to be a cheapskate, then why do you deserve better than the basics?

I get that argument. But what makes me uneasy is the Church deciding what’s a “luxury” and what isn’t. Is a wedding dress a luxury? What about an engagement ring? If someone owns a computer or a mobile, does that make them wealthy? Should they sell it to pay for the wedding? How about someone that owns a car? If we’re going to get into that, why not start telling people in a parish exactly what they should be putting in the collection pot each week?

The end result of this is that I’ve seen many couple go get married in a secular ceremony then show up at the church for a convalidation because that’s basically free. Not only is that the wrong way to go about it, but you now have 200 guests that probably assume they’ve left the Church.

And this is a relatively new policy from what I’ve seen. Not that long ago (10, 20 years or so) getting married was “free” (donation based, only). What caused parishes to jack up the prices and demand fixed fees? Protestant churches started doing it.

By the way - I’ve never before heard of weddings in any Catholic parish routinely taking place anywhere outside the actual church building. At the very least permission would be required from the Bishop for such to happen, and there doesn’t look to be any reasonable justification of his granting of that permission. Sounds highly irregular.

It is very common for priests to perform convalidations and very small Rites of Marriage in the parish office (a place of prayer), especially if that’s in the same building as the sanctuary. To do so requires the local pastor’s permission (Can 1118 s1). The bishop would need to approve a wedding in “another suitable place” (Can 1118 s2).

i can’t really say anything about the practices in the US. i’ve never lived in the US, i’ve only visited a few times, and i love shopping in the outlet malls because its so cheap especially compared here in Canada

i can only speak for the Philippines because i grew up there and got married there. i paid a big amount to the chapel where we got married and it includes decoration. also, it was more expensive than most other parishes because it was a private chapel of a retreat house. but because the chapel is beautiful, many people get married there and the people running the retreat house has opened it for weddings on weekends

now, here in Canada i had my son baptized in our parish. i did not pay a single cent. it was a private ceremony, there was no one in the church except my family and a couple of my friends, one of whom was a stand-in for the godfather. the godmother was my sister. we had the lights on and everything. i didn’t pay a single cent. i did give some money to the priest, especially because he was from the other parish as our priest was away on leave. i had to do the baptism that day because my family is flying in from out of town. but what i did was not required and the priest never asked for it. besides, he spent gas to go to our parish and i don’t even contribute to his parish.

i don’t know if weddings here would cost as much. the parish websites don’t have any fees posted on them, so i’m not sure if anything is charged.

The Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver (which is very nice for a 110 year old building) charges CAD$500 for a wedding (including organist) with CAD$100 for marriage prep. Not that bad.

My daughter was married in a beautiful old church where, as a non-parishoner, she was charged $250 for the use of the church. I do not consider that excessive in the least, as she was not a parishoner contributing regularly to the support of the parish. She lived out of town, but wanted her wedding at home, and knew the priest. The priest’s stipend was up to her discretion (he was the pastor of the parish) and she paid for an organist and a string ensemble and simple floral arrangements. The priest took care of all the paperwork.

It was explained to her that the fee was for the expenses involved in using the church, and also, because the church is historic and beautiful, many people want to use it for weddings, and part of the fees go to the preservation of the church, which can be expensive. I considered this all to be quite fair, and was surprised she was not charged more. I never considered it as paying for the Sacrament. It was her choice to be married there and she knew there would be extra expense involved.

But it’s a taxi that’s obliged to take certain people to certain places. And a parish is obligated to provide the sacraments for its parishioners. So if a parishioner can’t afford the fee, they will waive or reduce it.

As a parishioner you’ll be registered, and during registration or marriage prep will, I presume, discuss some details about your employment, living circumstances and things like that. From that information a reasonably educated guess can be made as to whereabouts you are financially, without unnecessarily detailed peeping and prying.

Now you get into what does “financial hardship” entail? If someone makes over $100,000 / year but has $200,000 in student loans is that hardship? What about a couple making $50,000/yr? Are you going to ask for copies of people’s tax returns and student loan bills to judge their “ability to pay”?

Of course not - but such information does, in a general but not detailed way, come out during marriage prep, presumably, as it would during any pre-marriage counselling. For starters financial hardship is a factor that’s likely to strain a marriage, so it’s something that will need to be discussed during prep.

I get that argument. But what makes me uneasy is the Church deciding what’s a “luxury” and what isn’t. Is a wedding dress a luxury? What about an engagement ring? If someone owns a computer or a mobile, does that make them wealthy? Should they sell it to pay for the wedding? How about someone that owns a car? If we’re going to get into that, why not start telling people in a parish exactly what they should be putting in the collection pot each week?

Why? Doesn’t the government, when deciding to hand out benefits to poor people, get to determine what your standard of living is, and whether you are genuinely in need of the benefit or not? Based on assets you own (oftentimes) as well as income? After all, the money used to provide the services doesn’t belong to the people getting the freebie, neither does it belong to the people who are distributing it. So it behoves them to be a little concerned about where it goes and to whom.

The end result of this is that I’ve seen many couple go get married in a secular ceremony then show up at the church for a convalidation because that’s basically free. Not only is that the wrong way to go about it, but you now have 200 guests that probably assume they’ve left the Church.

Put it this way, in many European countries couples are required to go through both a civil ceremony and separate religious ceremony (if they want one) for their marriage to be both legally and sacramentally valid. The civil ceremony, in my experience, most always comes first. Although I guess there’s no reason at all why it has to.

Such a situation doesn’t lead anybody to presume that the couple have left the church. And what’s wrong with the ceremony being private but having a party to celebrate the marriage afterwards? I’ve seen it happen often with baptisms.

Why not have the party on the day of the convalidation rather than the civil ceremony? Inviting the priest or deacon who married you to the party (which is very commonly done)? All of this would surely make the situation clear enough.

Not that long ago (10, 20 years or so) getting married was “free” (donation based, only). What caused parishes to jack up the prices and demand fixed fees? Protestant churches started doing it.

That’s only part of the story - the larger part is quite simply that bills have gone up enormously but people, by and large, are still putting only the same old dollar or two (or not significantly more) in the collection basket that they did 20 or 30 years ago.

is very common for priests to perform convalidations and very small Rites of Marriage in the parish office (a place of prayer), especially if that’s in the same building as the sanctuary. To do so requires the local pastor’s permission (Can 1118 s1). The bishop would need to approve a wedding in “another suitable place” (Can 1118 s2).

I understand if it’s in the same building as the sanctuary, as you say. Most parish offices here in Australia aren’t in the same building, but instead would be attached to the presbytery, or the parish school building, instead. At least I think so.

You’re assuming that it will be waived if your finances are audited and show an inability to pay. That’s a dangerous assumption. The other equally valid assumption is a two-tiered structure where only people of a certain financial means are afforded a “traditional” wedding and those unable to pay are provided a parish-office wedding. Sort of like being a “Regular Catholic” and a “Super Elite Platinum Member Catholic”, as airlines would put it.

I’ve never discussed my finances during registration or during marriage prep. Marriage prep questions are more geared towards spending/saving habits and registration only asked for an occupation, not a salary, debt levels, or mortgage payment. And if they did, I wouldn’t tell them.

An inability to produce $2500 does not necessarily mean someone has a strained marriage. There are plenty of people that aren’t rich but are happy.

So we’re going to have the Catholic Church auditing people’s incomes to determine an appropriate donation level? That does sound like a business (or at least a public administration) approach.

Do you want to baptize your child? That’s $10,000. You can’t afford that? You shouldn’t have purchased that new car. Too bad, your child can’t be Catholic. You can take him over to the Anglicans. Their baptism is just as good, then come back here for RCIC in a few years.

Now I see where this is going. If you’re not righteous enough to sell your earthly possessions to afford a sacrament, you’re not worthy. Instead, you have to technically qualify for the sacrament using back channels.

But here’s the issue: if someone has a big civil wedding and a small convalidation later, that could cause scandal. However, if that person has a small civil wedding and a small convalidation later, that person is not afforded the opportunity to be married in public in front of family and friends. And a person can’t have a large convalidation ceremony as that would require the $2500 church.

If people are still dropping in the “same old dollar or two”, then that’s the problem. Don’t take it out on a couple that’s seeking a sacrament.

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