The recession has hit Ireland’s priests – the clergy have been forced to take a pay-cut as donations fall and some could end up stacking supermarket shelves to make ends meet.
One outspoken cleric has claimed his colleagues could be forced to take up part-time jobs as Ireland’s economic woes spread to the Church.
Fr Joe McGuane issued the warning after Catholic priests in the diocese of Dublin saw their salaries cut by nine per cent.
The Dublin diocese is struggling to cope with the costs of clerical sex abuse scandals as revenue from donations at Mass falls dramatically.
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The Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin is already planning cost cutting measures with parish councils and finance committees after donations from the public fell by 16 per cent.
Dioceses across Ireland are suffering similar drops in revenue as they cope with the escalating cost of clerical-abuse compensation claims.
Fr Brendan Quinlivan, communications director of the Killaloe Diocese, told the Irish Independent: “What’s happening in Dublin is the trend across the country.”
The latest pay reduction is the second experienced by Dublin priests in a year after a six per cent cut in 2010.
The Independent reports that the basic income of a curate in the Dublin Archdiocese is now $33,000 a year, plus up to $4,000 depending on length of service.
Parish priests get an additional allowance of €7,000, which would bring their maximum total to €44,000.
Wages for priests in the Dublin diocese are supported by the first collection at Mass with the money then channelled into a Common Fund controlled by a committee of priests.
“When people give more to this fund, priests get more -- when it goes down, they get less,” a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Dublin told the paper.
Income in the diocese plummeted by $10million between 2009 and 2010, dropping from $91million to $81million.