Religious orders as employers


#1

Hi,

I was wondering if religious orders are considered employers, and as such, if for instance, nuns are considered employees? If so, would US employment laws apply to religious orders?

Thanks,
Casey


#2

Hi.

Interesting question.

This document from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (which are the governing group for American Catholic dioceses) notes that religious orders are tax-exempt organizations by U.S. law.

However, while an order may be a tax-exempt body, individual religious members may or may not be considered as having a tax liability. Such religious aren’t generally considered employees, either, but can inherit the tax-exemption provided they are working in an official capacity and monies involved are given to their order.

It’s quite complicated and I barely can sort out the bulk, so read through the document and parse out the details.


#3

First of all you must understand that there are different forms of religious life.

Religious orders (for consecrated men and nuns only)

Religious congregations (for consecrated men and sisters only)

Secular Orders (for secular men and women, married or single, secular deacons, secular priess, secular bishops, and secular popes)

Secular Institutes (for celibate lay persons, deacons, priests, bishops and popes)

Societies of Apostolic Life (for celibate lay men and women, secular deacons, priests and popes)

Clerical Associations or Fraternities (for secular deacons, priests, bisohps and popes)

Under the United States tax law none of these organizations are employers for several reasons:

  1. Members do not get paid a salary by the institute.

  2. The contractual obligation between the member and the insitute is a moral one not a employment contract.

  3. All of the members of owners of the assets of the institute and equal partners

  4. If the institute disolves all of its assets automatically belong the the Holy See, not the members and the members cannot claim any benefits

  5. If a member leaves the institute there is a contractual agreement that he/she owes the institute nothing and the institute owes him/her nothing. You leave with the clothes on your back and may not take anything else or receive any money on your way out

  6. Members of insitute are paid by their respective employers: diocese, school, university, hospital, parish, ministry, etc.

  7. Members of religious orders may not keep any of their salaries. These must be turned in to the superior. The money goes the other way around, from the individual to the institute.

  8. Members of congregations may only keep that portion of their salary that is allowed by the congregation. Again, the money goes from the individual to the institute.

  9. Members of all other institutes keep all of the money they are paid for their ministry and contribute to a common fund for common expenses. But that money is not paid to them by the insitute. The institute is really a legal association as far as the state is concerned, not an employer.

The tax laws vary from one country to another. These are the current rules in the USA. Also, in the USA, members of religious orders do not pay taxes, because our salaries are not paid in our name. The check is cut in the name of our order. For example, the diocese for which I work pays my order, not me. Legally, I have no income.

Members of religious congregations may pay taxes if the check is cut in their name. Religious congregations are allowed to get paid a salary and benefits under Church law. Religious orders are not.

Secular priests who belong to societies (Vincentians, Maryknoll, SSPX, FSSP, Christ the King, etc) must pay taxes. Checks are always cut out to them and they also get benefits paid to them. They get to keep 100% of it.

Secular priests who work for a diocese, also known as diocesan priests, also pay taxes. They are independent contractors for a parish. The parish pays them a salary and pays for their benefits. But the parish does not pay their Social Security tax or their unemployment benefits, nor disability insurance. They have a retirement plan through the diocese, like any other secular employee. They must pay for these themselves if they want them. They are no one's employees, not even the dioceses. In the past they were paid as diocesan employees, but those rules have changed. They get paid the same salary, but less benefits.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#4

I have a quick question for Br JR OSF.

First of all thank you for your writings on the differences between Orders, especially Nuns and Sisters. This is all very confusing.
I went to the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas web site. They said they take vows and their founder is Catherine McCauley. (She was a Nun not a Sister, and who never founded Sisters who were not Nuns.)
sistersofmercy.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=30&Itemid=73

Do they purposely try to confuse people? They never explain the difference or even state their is a difference on their web site.

This is the order of Carol Keehan of CHA, who defied our Catholic bishops, and continues to do so regarding abortion.
Are they required to adhere to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”?
Who is their boss ? - the Pope ? Since they elect their President, I would not be interested in writing to her. I’ve done that and it does no good. They belong to political lobbiest organizations, etc. And are giving Catholics a bad name.

What can be done about religious heretics or schismatics in our Church ? There are starting to be too many orders that advertise themselves as Catholic yet, do not adhere to the teachings of the Church.
Further, some have their own Churches which clearly are not Catholic (women priests and bishops, excommunicated Priests, etc.)
This is confusing whem looking for a Church when on vacation. What can be done about this if anything.

Thank you. Confused.

PS: Mother Angelica and real orders of Nuns also call themselves Sisters. How can the average person tell the difference ?


#5

Dear Br-

The Sisters of Mercy of the Amercias states “They focus on empowering women, helping immigrants, practicing anti-racism and non-violence, and caring for Earth and our natural resources”.

Why don’t they just join Planned Parenthood, or National Organization of Women, or Obama’s Green Movement ?

Never once do they state anything about helping souls get to heaven, or adherance to the CCC 2nd Ed, or mention the Pope.

This and my previous message is important because - If I were a politician, it certainly would confuse me. Catholic or non-Catholic alike.


#6

[quote="WatchingMedia, post:4, topic:202389"]
I have a quick question for Br JR OSF.

First of all thank you for your writings on the differences between Orders, especially Nuns and Sisters. This is all very confusing.
I went to the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas web site. They said they take vows and their founder is Catherine McCauley. (She was a Nun not a Sister, and who never founded Sisters who were not Nuns.)
sistersofmercy.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=30&Itemid=73

Do they purposely try to confuse people? They never explain the difference or even state their is a difference on their web site.

This is the order of Carol Keehan of CHA, who defied our Catholic bishops, and continues to do so regarding abortion.
Are they required to adhere to the "Catechism of the Catholic Church"?
Who is their boss ? - the Pope ? Since they elect their President, I would not be interested in writing to her. I've done that and it does no good. They belong to political lobbiest organizations, etc. And are giving Catholics a bad name.

What can be done about religious heretics or schismatics in our Church ? There are starting to be too many orders that advertise themselves as Catholic yet, do not adhere to the teachings of the Church.
Further, some have their own Churches which clearly are not Catholic (women priests and bishops, excommunicated Priests, etc.)
This is confusing whem looking for a Church when on vacation. What can be done about this if anything.

Thank you. Confused.

PS: Mother Angelica and real orders of Nuns also call themselves Sisters. How can the average person tell the difference ?

[/quote]

Nuns always belong to religious orders. Sisters always belong to congregations. Nuns are always enclosed. Sisters are never enclosed.

The confusion began when the first congregations were founded, because the women religious were addressed as Sister and the superior as Mother. These were the titles used by nuns. But there were not other titles at the time.

If I'm not mistaken, Sister Carol is neither a nuns nor a sister. I believe that she is a Daughter of Charity. St. Vincent de Paul's Daughters of Charity and Mother Seton's Sisters of Charity are neither sisters nor nuns. They are consecrated women. But they do not fall into either category because they never make perpetual vows. They renew their vows every year on the Feast of the Annunciation. Every sister is free to leave the community when the vows expire.

Mother Seton took the statutes of Vincent de Paul, because the hope was that eventually the Daughters of Charity would come from France and the two communities would merge. Vincent never allowed his Daughters to make perpetual vows so that they would not have to live like women religious. This allowed them to be free to live outside of convents, not wear habits, not have chapels and not have Mother Superiors. They governed themselves. It was St. Vincent's idea that the Daughters would be completely dedicated to the service of the poor and sick.

They are considered societies of apostolic life, not institutes of consecrated life. But the proper title for addressing them is Sister.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#7

#8

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