The Archdiocese of Dublin recently announced that church donations have fallen by up to 80 per cent during the coronavirus pandemic and that priests have had to agree a 25 per cent cut in their personal allowance.
Between March and June of this year, the Archdiocese’s “common fund” collection for priests was down by 70 per cent in comparison to the same period in 2019, whilst the “support for share” fund fell by 80 per cent over the same period.
As reported by the Irish Times, the Dublin Archdiocese said that church closures have had “very serious consequences” for church revenue and that a financial restructuring strategy will be drawn up over the coming months to address “this urgent situation”.
This restructuring will include the new clergy income measures as well as a voluntary redundancy scheme for up to a third of the 82 diocesan support staff and parish pastoral workers currently working in the archdiocese.
“Each staff member is being offered support and advice mechanisms to guide staff members at this time, paid for by the diocese,” the archdiocese announced. “The process is ongoing. Diocesan staff are in receipt of the [Irish Government’s] Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme.”
In a separate statement, the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference said that “lay and clerical pay has been reduced across the country, with lay redundancies also in play. This reduced pay/wages is expected to continue into 2021.”
Masses in Ireland resumed on June 29, over two weeks earlier than previously planned, after the Irish Government announced in early June that it would “accelerate” its plans to lift church lockdown restrictions provided that the country’s infection rates remained low.
On Friday, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin welcomed new health and safety guidance from the Irish Government for places of worship, which removed a 50-person limit on Mass attendance for churches large enough to maintain sufficient social distancing.
The Archbishop had previously criticised the attendance cap, arguing that it “would mean turning many people away or having them remain outside”.
Under new health and safety measures, the normal basket collection during the offertory has been replaced by a permanent collection box positioned at the entrance of each church.