France: The Catholic Church is in a troubling financial situation

Source: FSSPX News


The financial situation of the Catholic Church in France is of serious concern to the financial director of the episcopal conference. The dioceses could declare bankruptcy in about thirty years if nothing is done, according to Olivier Lebel.

Lebel told APIC (International Catholic Press Agency) that, according to an inquiry by the Catholic Church in France of about thirty dioceses, only one of them managed to balance its budget. The average deficit amounts to 3% of available resources. He foresees that “the most affected dioceses could find themselves in trouble in as little as ten years.” The measures necessary to rectify the situation affect income more than expenditures. Spending is practically reduced to what is strictly necessary. “Priests receive a salary below the SMIC [minimum wage] and the laity, who are slightly better compensated, struggle to support their families.”

“Since 1905, we’ve had a Lenten drive to raise contributions for the pastoral staff and to fund the upkeep of buildings. We must rely on a greater generosity of the faithful to confront these financial difficulties”, says the national financial director.

An increase of 5% in the collection plate would be enough to restore solvency, Lebel told AFP [French Press Agency]. The financial needs of the dioceses could grow more serious in the future. “In ten years, we will have half as many priests. We will have to replace them with lay people, who cannot be paid the same wage”, he said.

The priests and bishops receive a total net compensation of between 747 and 945 euros. As for the laity, salaries are between the SMIC and 1450 euros net per month for full time.

The annual income from the collection plate comprises 30% of necessary funds. The total grew, in 2001, to 180 million euros. “Contributions are not growing sufficiently to cover rising costs, which puts a great majority of the dioceses in a fragile material situation.”