Parish clergy earn less than average earnings
Cathal Barry, Greg Daly and Paul Keenan
There is a wide disparity in priests’ earnings across Ireland’s 26 dioceses The Irish Catholic can reveal.
A survey carried out by this newspaper – the first of its kind – reveals that priests earn considerably less than average wages across the economy.
It also reveals the huge range in remuneration with priests of the Clogher diocese receiving up to €33,960 per year while priests in the neighbouring Derry diocese can receive as little as €11,664 – just over one third of the Clogher figures.
However, raw figures around monthly remuneration don’t tell the full story since many dioceses that may have lower basic earnings have other benefits such as a share in certain parish collections. But, overall, the figures show that priests are generally paid below the average wage of €35,600 in the Republic and €26,018 (£21,836) in the North.
One major advantage priests have is that they are generally provided with parochial property in which to reside while they remain working in a particular parish.
Just two dioceses – Cashel & Emly and Meath – refused to reveal details of the remuneration received by priests for their ministry.
In the course of the research, The Irish Catholic spoke to dozens of priests across the country. No priest who spoke to this newspaper had a gripe about clerical remuneration.
However, several expressed frustration about a feeling that some parishioners think that priests are paid more than is actually the case.
One cleric said it is an irritation for many priests that some parishioners labour under the false assumption, for example, that priests’ cars are purchased out of parish funds. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said, “each priest is responsible for his own car and also for the running of that car”.
Priests receive no travelling expenses to cover sick calls or visits to parishioners in hospital or in prison, often driving considerable distances to do so.
One priest pointed out that “it’s a fact that most priests rely on the generosity of some parishioners and even family members to supplement their basic income”.
Another cleric added: “Priests don’t complain about the financial situation and most are very content with it – no one enters the priesthood to get rich, but priests do get very bothered when there is any suggestion that they are well off or too well looked after,” he said.
Generally, priests are provided with accommodation in parochial houses, but other expenses such as food, etc., are the responsibility of the priest.