Should Churches charge for Sacraments?


#1

I recently got married. I got married in the church where I am an active participant. My music team consisted entirely of people who volunteered because I am actively involved in music ministry (actually, I didn’t know ANY of them would be there. They attended as a ‘wedding surprise’ for me).

I have been a member of this parish over 7 years and have been actively involved in their music ministry just as long.

Two weeks after the wedding I received a message from the secretary informing me I needed to pay a ‘wedding fee’. Prior to this I had intended to give a gift to the church as I felt that was appropriate but the whole ‘we are charging you for this sacrament’ thing put me off just a tiny bit.

It seems somehow inappropriate to me for the Church to be charging for sacraments. I could maybe understand if I were an outsider but this is my home parish.

Now, I’m not looking to attack my particular parish in this post. What I’m wondering is what are your thoughts.

Should members of a parish be charged fees for sacraments?

I have heard the excuses: Choir fees, cost of having church open, etc. This was a summer wedding. No air conditioning in the church. It literally cost nothing to have us there except the priests time. I brought my own altar servers, the choir entirely volunteered their own time. Literally the only thing I took from the Church in this was their secretary had to fill out some paperwork and the priests time. So that particular ‘reasoning’ for the wedding fee just doesn’t sit right with me.

I also wonder about those who are not so fortunate. We actually are one of those. We strung together a wedding on a shoestring budget. We set ASIDE money for the Church because to me it was important but again it’s the fact that they’re ‘charging’ that isn’t sitting well. I always intended to give them something as I’m grateful to the priest but it just doesn’t feel right to be ‘charged’ for sacraments!

What do low income people do? Take up payment plans with the Church just so they can be married in the eyes of God?

Bit baffled here.

PS: I did see there were some old topics about this but I felt I wanted to be a bit broader. I don’t want to just examine my parish but the question of whether this is ‘appropriate’ or not across the board.

PPS: After reading responses I felt it was appropriate to mention that I’m a convert. :slight_smile: The church I came from before converting never charged for weddings, funerals, anything at all. So I’m coming from that perspective. I’ve only been Catholic 7 years and am still learning.


#2

Paying for your wedding, yes.

Paying for confession or the Eucharist, no.


#4

Parishes should never charge for the sacraments themselves.

However, parishes do often need to have fees in place for the use of facilities, such as with weddings.

This is an important distinction. The Church does not charge for dispensing grace. That would be simony and it is strictly forbidden. But there are costs associated with these things (often costs we do not see) and those need to be paid somehow.

Not every parish staff person is adept at articulating this important distinction. And so I can completely understand how it rubs people the wrong way at times.

If someone truly cannot pay, that is never a problem. Priests won’t send you to a collection agency. Indeed, they didn’t even ask you for the money up front. So if what they are asking for seems like too much, certainly speak with them about that.


#5

Paying for wedding yes paying for matrimony no. See the difference?


#6

There is not a charge for any Sacrament.

There is a cost for exclusive use of the building for several hours across two days (rehearsal, decorating, photograph time, Mass). The staff has to be paid to be there, the cleaning people have to come in and clean up (bathrooms especially).

If you want a simple wedding that takes place at a regular Mass, discuss that with your home parish.

If you cannot afford to pay the costs that the Church incurs for a big wedding, offer to volunteer or find another way to help the Church. I’ve never seen a parish turn away a couple over money. You sit down and work it out.


#8

No, I’m not sure I do. Can you be married in the eyes of the Church without having a wedding?


#9

It may have to do with the distinction between natural and sacramental marriages.


#11

I just want to point out that there are many costs associated with using the Church facilities that we do not see. LittleLady pointed out about having maintenance guys come clean the bathroom (often for overtime pay) so that the bathrooms are clean for Sunday. There is also liability insurance that often needs to be paid per event.

There are a number of such “hidden” costs for everything that goes on in a parish. So we shouldn’t assume that the fee is exorbitant or unnecessary. In most cases I’m aware of, the fee does not even cover the costs incurred by the parish.


#12

Oops sorry. Did you do marriage prep at the parish? That took time and money for materials? Did someone unlock the church? That takes time? Did you clean the church before and after? You may not have made a mess but somebody had to check.
I am sure I did not think of everything. Were you going to leave on check for the church and one for the priest? One compensates and thanks him for his time and one pays for the facility.
One last thought. If it was just you the priest and two witnesses you might not have had to pay a wedding fee.


#13

We cleaned the church after we left. Liability insurance? That I could perhaps understand, although we had our own insurance in place as well. This is a very small parish where we handled setup, take down and cleanup after the fact. And yes, I cleaned the church while in my wedding dress. LOL. Who wouldn’t?

But yes, in other circumstances this is something to be considered and definitely applies I’m sure.


#14

That’s what we wanted. We weren’t allowed to. :slight_smile: I only ever wanted a tiny little affair with no fuss and no muss!


#15

Funerals can expect to be paid for, and marriages, because there’s a lot of work that goes into those.

Last rites and such don’t incur much time or money cost on the parish like a funeral or wedding does.


#16

I am curious as to why all of this was not brought up when you “booked” the Church for your wedding?

I know that in every parish I have been involved in, there is a listing of what the fees are and who gets them.

Some of the fee also covers the materials for the pre-Cana programs/FOCUS inventory.

Why not ask your pastor these questions?


#17

Perhaps this is because you for some reason have not yet provided the customary stipend? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of this being done at any other time than the day of the wedding. What you’re waiting for I’m unsure of.


#18

So hearing the responses my next question is: As a long-standing member who routinely donates to the church… shouldn’t my donations help to pay for events just like this?


#19

Short answer, no.
And if this is what you expected, again you should have discussed this with your Pastor from the very beginning.


#20

I was on honeymoon and intended to give them a gift upon our return. :slight_smile: And yes, I received a request for a wedding fee while I was on honeymoon. Haha.

I know several people who were married in this Church. I will ask if they were also charged.


#21

I fully recognize that the parish incurs costs that have to be covered. I don’t object to paying for a wedding. What I am querying is the truthfulness of the claim that the parish is not charging a fee for a sacrament.


#22

I think it’s reasonable to pay something toward the upkeep of the Church. For my wedding I didn’t really make use of anything apart from the building itself. I supplied a priest and did the decor.

I intended, and still iintend to give some money to the priest for the wedding, but it’s a case of “never got around to it yet”.

I gave the celebrant a €50 in a thank you card as he is a friend so he didn’t expect anything.

Music and stuff was all provided by a friend who was also a groomsman.

I think there should be a “suggested donation” for sacraments but I don’t think there should be a flat fee. My Priest told us that we would not be charged for the sacrament as we were a bit strapped for cash at the time of the wedding.
Now that we are in a better financial position I would like to make a decent donation to the church.

On one hand, the stuff in the Church needs to be paid for. On the other hand, sacraments should be available with no financial bar.


#23

My questions are all hypothetical. :slight_smile: I am attempting to understand but also to be more at ease with what feels like being charged for a sacrament.

CilladeRoma - I have no idea. No fee was mentioned when we booked the wedding or through the entire planning process.


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