Colm Fitzpatrick and Greg Daly
Parishioners must play a more active role in keeping their local churches afloat, Waterford and Lismore’s bishop Phonsie Cullinan has warned.
Dr Cullinan said that lay people are called to be involved in and support the Church which at a “very nuts and bolts” level requires financial contribution in their local parish.
His comments come after the diocese said it had no money to pay its priests’ wages at Christmas due to the depleting funds collected from parishioners.
“People don’t realise that bringing a child for baptism, first Holy Communion, Confirmation, that they too have a role to play in the Church – it’s not just the priest and the extraordinary ministers and those kind of people with specific jobs in the Church,” the bishop told The Irish Catholic.
“Everyone is called to be involved and an essential part of that, and just a very nuts and bolts part of that, is that people have to contribute to both the upkeep of the church building and keeping the parish going and of course to realise the priest has to be paid.”
Dr Cullinan added that it is “quite extraordinary” lay people are willing to use the facilities of a church without realising their role in its upkeep.
“If a person takes a fiver out of their pocket in a pub or a shop it won’t get you very far and yet how many people would take a fiver out of their pocket in a Church?” he said.
Dr Cullinan did, however, emphasise that there are “many” lay people who contribute generously at collections and that they shouldn’t feel pressurised to give even more because of the shortfall in donations.
“It’s just a matter of being fair really and just to think about if we want our local church and our local priest to flourish, it’s just a fact of life that we have to pay. It’s not a question of making people feel guilty or putting pressure on those who cannot afford it but it’s just a matter of thinking this through and giving somebody a fair wage,” the bishop said.