Over half of parishes cannot afford priests

David Virtue DVirtue236 at AOL.COM
Mon May 21 00:24:19 EDT 2001

Over half of parishes cannot afford priests

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones

More than half of the Church of England's parishes are not able to
afford the full cost of stipends clergy have warned, and a third of
clergy have debts running into thousands of pounds.

In a review of clergy stipends, well over half of those asked
complained that they are not receiving enough, confirming evidence
supplied by the Manufacturing, Science and Finance last year.

After the Church Commissioners lost £800m in property investments, the
financial burden for clergy pay was transferred to the dioceses. The
news that parishes are not able to contribute quotas to cover the cost
of their clergy will put further pressure on the already troubled
dioceses, who are heading for massive deficits in the coming years.

However, Dr Chris Ball, National Secretary of the MSF, is urging the
Church to increase clergy pay to a level comparable to the salaries of
other professionals so that they do not experience financial worries.

"Clergy do not expect to live lavishly but there are real examples of
hardship which should be unacceptable in any organisation, but most of
all in the Church," Dr Ball commented in response to the survey, set up
by the Archbishops' Council.

Where the stipend was the sole source of income, nearly half the clergy
said their standard of living was below that in their parishes. Clergy
in households where the spouse's earnings were small were less likely
to have capital reserves, and more likely to have debts.

Of the third of clergy who said that they have debts, the majority had
debts ranging from £2000 to over £10,000. The amounts involved had
increased over the previous year for 41 per cent of those with debts.

Chris Ball said that so many clergy were struggling financially that it
has become very common for them to apply for support to the various
clergy charities such as the Sons of the Clergy Corporation.

Despite the financial difficulties, nine out of 10 clergy rated their
job satisfaction and morale as adequate or better.


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