Priests and The Vow of Poverty


And some of them take a vow of poverty while others don’t. Clearly, the church doesn’t have a problem with this. Why should we?


I think it’s presumptuous of you to tell clergy how they should live when you say you’re not called to it yourself. They have enough superiors to do that without the lay people in the pews being buttinskys. Also, if a priest wants to live as a poor monk or whatever, he’s free to choose that. We don’t need to impose it on all the rest of the priests who didn’t so choose.

I don’t see my local priests living lavishly so I think you’re just creating a solution here for a problem that doesn’t exist.


Neither do I… they make something like 30k a year, and while it is true that they don’t have a mortgage to pay or health insurance to take care of, that’s still nothing wild in terms of income…


I’m going by what Saint Paul said in the didache. It’s not from some place on high, Saint Paul said that ministers should take vows of poverty


Saying that priests shouldn’t practice simony is in no way comparable to a vow of poverty


Just to be clear, you are accusing the church of doing what, exactly?


I don’t think St Paul’s teaching is anything new to priests. Why would you think the diocese isn’t already applying it? Paying someone 30 grand a year in this economy for a job where you’re on call 24/7 sounds like an austere lifestyle to me.


Whoa…hold on…the vow of poverty (in terms from this century) is a resource pool through an order. Perhaps some clarification is needed here on what is actually being talked about. I don’t think the OP is actually talking about “poverty”…I think.

The question may have to do more with whether priests live in a community or don’t.


I’m not sure how priests can live in community more than they already do - some do belong to orders and live in the manner specified by their order, some others who aren’t in an order share a rectory with multiple priests. The only time I’ve seen some priests living on their own is when they retire, sometimes they have the means through their families or a gift to live in their own condo or something like that. And that seems pretty rare. Most retired priests I see are in residence at some parish still helping out until they get too feeble and are placed in a retirement home.


The two :nerd_face: off us have already had a detailed discussion about this one before. What I’ve seen is sometimes diocesan priests live in a community and sometimes they don’t. You’ve seen something different. That’s fine.

As for whether priests should actually live in poverty, I agree that is none of our beeswax. As for whether they should live in a community, this is a more complicated question. I’d like to know what the OP actually is asking. I honestly didn’t understand the concept of a “vow of poverty” for a while. It had to be explained here on CAF.


Diocesan Priests do not take vows of Poverty. As already started. Religious live a communal life whereas a Diocean Priest might be living alone in a remote Parish.
A vow of poverty means a lot more then a monetary one.
There is poverty of Spirit, poverty of self will , for example.


I am in agreement with those who think that diocesan priests earn every penny they get and aren’t likely to get rich nor have a lavish retirement, outside of possibly inheriting from someone. In addition, at least in my diocese the retirement age for priests is 75 and even then they still fill in a lot for priests who are going on vacation or whatever.

Do you know any other job that won’t allow retirement until 75? I didn’t think so. I understand it’s different because it’s a vocation but let’s give them a break. They do a whole lot for us. If they want to makes vows on their own it’s fine.

Leave their income alone.


Here is a little on the vow of poverty and the concept of poverty.
Affective detachment from temporal goods in a humble and constant search for God and in dependency on Him and the Community.
Spiritual poverty is an ideal every Christian is bound to live in its spirit, ie detachment from temporal goods and recognising the mercy of God and abandoning ourselves to it.
In the world poverty is to dress simply, live in a modest home, live modestly and make all effort to give witness to the world that God is everything to the Christian.

Consecrated Religious be they Diocesan Priests, Cloistered Nuns or working Religious engage in spiritual poverty by transferring the property of their whole person and faculties to Christ. This is part of Consecration.


Shouldn’t everyone live fairly modestly within their means?


Not to be pedantic, but St Paul didn’t write the Didache.

And besides, our understanding of things and the way in which we practice the faith, including clerical/religious life, have grown and changed a great deal since the first century. Even at that point, there was a sense in which there were various vocations, and those grew up in the ways that they did.

So yes, your interpretation of this is wrong. You’re taking something 1900 years old and reading it out of its original context, and reading it into our present circumstances in a way that ignores all the developments of clerical and religious life in the meantime.

As I said, I was called to the priesthood. I was not called to the religious life. There’s nothing wrong with me having a modest salary (truly quite low compared to others at my level of education; it’s not unusual for someone with the same theological education as me to be making over twice what I am as a director of religious education). If there were something wrong with priests getting paid, if it somehow ran contrary to scripture or tradition, we’d have figured that out by now.

How else am I supposed to buy my Legos and Batman comics?



Thank you for this explanation Father.


Oh, absolutely. But priests especially, as it’s very scandalous when they live extravagantly.


But isn’t usually a problem with bishops and bishops come from the monastic orders and have already took a vow a poverty which they obviously don’t respect in these situations? I don’t know any extravagant diocesan priest but bishops…unfortunately…


We’ll put. Living in poverty is a vocation, which means each person must make their own decisions. It is not up to other people to make the decision for any individual.


Our priests live in two beautiful old homes but they are paid for by the diocese. They live on about 6000 US dollars a year of personal income. Their personal lives are not their own and they are on call and at the disposal of the parish 24 hours a day. Poverty of spirit.

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