Can we afford more priests?


There is much talk among Catholics about the shortage of priests. But as I travel the wide brown lands of the Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn, the question haunts me – can we afford more priests, asks Helen Delahunty.

- Catholic Voice, Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocesan newsletter

The Archbishop’s office has been organising the installation for our new Archbishop in November and in that process we need to ascertain the numbers of all groups attending the Cathedral. It was surprising to me that we have 87 members of clergy in this Archdiocese, including 51 active priests.

The Archdiocese sets the stipend for all active priests at $19,000 per annum. We also encourage household expenses to run at $12,000 per annum per priest. So without any extra financial needs, each parish needs to give $31,000 per annum in the first collection to cover the needs of their priest. That is $600 per week. Clearly if a parish has an assistant priest, that number doubles to $1200 per week. 

Over the last 11 years, the reports given by the parishes to the Archdiocese convey an interesting story. The income from the Parish collections is going down in real terms and is not keeping up with the growth in expenses. If that is the case – and without arresting that real decrease in the spending power of the collections – how are we going to justify having a priest in each parish?

One of the many roles of the Archdiocese is to ensure our clergy are covered in terms of their basic needs. If a parish can’t contribute enough to cover those costs, the Archdiocese will cover the difference. Up until August this year, the Archdiocese has paid out over $110,000 to needy parishes. This figure is growing.

FULL STORY Can we afford more priests?

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