Simony


#1

This past week our parish bulletin carried an announcement regarding baptisms. It said parents requesting baptism must be registered at our parish and attend a 75-minute class. It said call the office for registration and fees. This seemed odd--I had never heard of fees associated with baptism. I asked our church secretary about this and she the fee is $100 per baptism. Isn't this simony?

I would like some advice about what I should do.

Thank you,
em


#2

No simony would be them otherwise denying the sacrament unless you paid. Them charging you is a fee. This is because simony is defined as a sin committed when one pays for a sacrament they do not merit. Not the church charging you to preform one. Also baptism requires that paperwork and such be filled out, filed, church space reserved and this is done by a lay person who is payed. 100 seems a lot though I'll give you that. How are the poor of the parish to pay. Will their children be refused baptism in the church?


#3

Before you call, ask yourself, do you want to make a donation or not,
why ? what can you afford ? Recently my Godson was baptised. I attended
a recital beforehand in which we were told what to do when the ceremony
occurs. So we’re talking about two separate uses of the parish resources,
on different days. There are sacramentals involved, Holy Oils etc.
Do you not want to make an offering for the parish ?
The $100 is only a suggested donation.
Email/Call/Speak to the pastor with your questions/concerns.


#4

This is not a “donation” but a charge levied to receive a sacrament, a sacrament necessary for salvation. I do not see how this can be right in any way, but that it will result in fewer baptisms.

BTW, this does not affect our family particularly since all our children are baptized and in their teens (and it would be very, very odd for us to add another soul to our family at this point ;)). I am concerned for our parish and wonder if there is anything I can or should do to about this. If I were seeking baptism for my own child, I would be gone from this parish today.

em


#5

[quote="ElisabethM, post:4, topic:310365"]
This is not a "donation" but a charge levied to receive a sacrament, a sacrament necessary for salvation. I do not see how this can be right in any way, but that it will result in fewer baptisms.

BTW, this does not affect our family particularly since all our children are baptized and in their teens (and it would be very, very odd for us to add another soul to our family at this point ;)). I am concerned for our parish and wonder if there is anything I can or should do to about this. If I were seeking baptism for my own child, I would be gone from this parish today.

em

[/quote]

Did you not make a donation when your 3 children were baptized ?


#6

They are not going to make poor people pay, for example. The fee is simply something to help offset costs, probably. It is not a sacramental price.


#7

My children were all baptized in the Lutheran Church before we converted. Baptisms were always part of Sunday worship and never was it even suggested we give something to the church, or pastor, over and above our regular contribution. Isn't that what are offerings, supposedly free-will, go for anyway--the running of the parish?

Our priest has only been here 6 months and has just now instituted this "pay for baptism" policy. We have been at this parish 5 years and there has never been a charge for sacraments while we've been here.

em


#8

Has the parish said they will refuse to perform baptisms for people who cannot or will not for some reason pay the $100?

I've never heard of sacraments being denied to people where paying fees is an issue, rather in such cases the fees are reduced or even waived entirely. Same goes for other services like starting annulment proceedings. This is so even in cases where there was no written indication that such was the policy.

Think about it - if these concessions were freely advertised there would be a great temptation for people who could afford $100 to refuse or claim hardship when in reality it was no hardship - people often want something for nothing.


#9

It is a very poorly phrased "suggested donation". They cannot withhold baptism on account of being unable to pay that amount (it would be a violation of canon law). They should add a note that financial considerations will be made for people who cannot afford the class.


#10

No it is not simony.

Offerings are in thanksgiving for the sacrament and the support of the Church. Canon Law governs the maximum offering for a sacrament locally through the bishops:

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.

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.

The competent authority in this case is the bishops of the Province, or in absence of that the diocesan bishop. So, the offering for sacraments should be uniform in the diocese. You can call and ask for the documenation from the diocese, ours is online at the diocesan website in our diocesan finance manual.

In our diocese, the bishop has designated that offerings for sacraments go to the Works of Charity, not to the priest. The faithful are free to give a separate offering to the priest if they would like. In other dioceses, the bishop has determined the offering goes to the priest. That is his prerogative. In our diocese the suggested donation is $10 for baptism, $75 for marriage, and $50 for funerals. This does not include any fees for classes and materials.

As well as the offering given for a Mass intention:

vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P3D.HTM


#11

[quote="ElisabethM, post:4, topic:310365"]
If I were seeking baptism for my own child, I would be gone from this parish today.

em

[/quote]

amen to that


#12

[quote="ElisabethM, post:4, topic:310365"]
This is not a "donation" but a charge levied to receive a sacrament, a sacrament necessary for salvation. I do not see how this can be right in any way, but that it will result in fewer baptisms.

BTW, this does not affect our family particularly since all our children are baptized and in their teens (and it would be very, very odd for us to add another soul to our family at this point ;)). I am concerned for our parish and wonder if there is anything I can or should do to about this. If I were seeking baptism for my own child, I would be gone from this parish today.

em

[/quote]

It seems like you had your mind made up before you even asked the question. :shrug:


#13

I wanted to know if this is simony, which apparently it is not. I was thinking it was and so was asking for advice about what one should do in such a situation, e.g. speak to the priest, contact the bishop, etc. I have my answer. Thank you.

em


#14

from LilyM:

Think about it - if these concessions were freely advertised there would be a great temptation for people who could afford $100 to refuse or claim hardship when in reality it was no hardship - people often want something for nothing.

This does not make sense to me. Sacraments are "concessions"??

It may not be simony, but something is very wrong here. I do not see how this baptism fee can be justified as an expense for families who simply want to bring their children into the Church, who are seeking nothing less and nothing more than salvation for their children. To put a price on this is very sad. It suggests the parish is a business focused on money, not the Body of Christ focused on the salvation of souls.

It gives a terrible impression that “sacraments are for sale”. It will certainly hurt our parish as well give a very unfavorable impression of the Catholic Church to the community. In an area so heavily filled with Protestants (that don't charge for baptism), people who aren't sold on the Catholic Church might just leave and go over to another church where they don't have to come up with $100 for a baptism. This policy discourages baptism and I expect will diminish rather than increase our parish.

em


#15

[quote="ElisabethM, post:13, topic:310365"]
I wanted to know if this is simony, which apparently it is not. I was thinking it was and so was asking for advice about what one should do in such a situation, e.g. speak to the priest, contact the bishop, etc. I have my answer. Thank you.

em

[/quote]

$100 does seem pretty high. So, you can certainly check with the diocese and make sure that is the approved maximum and also suggest that the way it is being presented is not ideal.

You should also talk to your priest about your concerns of the way it is being presented.


#16

[quote="ElisabethM, post:14, topic:310365"]
To put a price on this is very sad.

[/quote]

it should be made clear that this is the suggested offering, or the maximum offering. People are free to make whatever offering they can.

The reason canon law governs the offering is to ensure that there is a maximum set and that people know what it is. I can't tell you how often the question "how much should I give for XYZ" is asked. If the bishops set no suggested offering for their province, it would be difficult for anyone in the Church to answer this question. It is for consistency.

[quote="ElisabethM, post:14, topic:310365"]

It gives a terrible impression that “sacraments are for sale”. It will certainly hurt our parish as well give a very unfavorable impression of the Catholic Church to the community. In an area so heavily filled with Protestants (that don't charge for baptism), people who aren't sold on the Catholic Church might just leave and go over to another church where they don't have to come up with $100 for a baptism. This policy discourages baptism and I expect will diminish rather than increase our parish.

[/quote]

Share your concerns with your priest and see what he says.


#17

[quote="ElisabethM, post:14, topic:310365"]
from LilyM:

This does not make sense to me. Sacraments are "concessions"??

[/quote]

Lily was referring to her statement, "I've never heard of sacraments being denied to people where paying fees is an issue, rather in such cases the fees are reduced or even waived entirely."

A concession is not even something for sale (take a look at the definition). It is something conceded or even yielded.

I think the idea of a "concession stand" in a public venue is probably confusing matters since it usually refers to vendors. However, the term in that context refers more to their occupation of the space than the activity they are engaged in.


#18

[quote="1ke, post:10, topic:310365"]
In our diocese, the bishop has designated that offerings for sacraments go to the Works of Charity, not to the priest. The faithful are free to give a separate offering to the priest if they would like. In other dioceses, the bishop has determined the offering goes to the priest. That is his prerogative. In our diocese the suggested donation is $10 for baptism, $75 for marriage, and $50 for funerals. This does not include any fees for classes and materials.

As well as the offering given for a Mass intention:

vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P3D.HTM

[/quote]

Really? I've seen the charge for a marriage at a local church at $600. I'm guessing that includes everything, but that's pretty steep.


#19

[quote="smndtupidisaftr, post:18, topic:310365"]
Really? I've seen the charge for a marriage at a local church at $600. I'm guessing that includes everything, but that's pretty steep.

[/quote]

$75 is the offering.

That is not the same as a hall or church rental fee.

The church fees for marriage often include many things, so the $600 might include the offering and other things also. You'd really have to ask your parish.


#20

[quote="smndtupidisaftr, post:18, topic:310365"]
Really? I've seen the charge for a marriage at a local church at $600. I'm guessing that includes everything, but that's pretty steep.

[/quote]

The church-related fees for our wedding totaled similarly. However, they were broken down to specify offerings for the Altar Society, organ use, organist stipend, altar server stipends (we had two), priest's stipend, Engaged Encounter and church offering. Some of those could be completely omitted by simply not using the organ or having servers. The others were open to discussion for needs considerations.


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