Priests Face 11,600 Pension Cut As Diocese Deducts State Equivalent

By Patsy McGarry
The Irish Times

November 11, 2008

SOME RETIRED Dublin priests face a loss of income following a Catholic archdiocese decision to revise downwards its contribution to their pensions.

The change means that priests who retired over the past year to 18 months will experience a drop in income of 11,600 each, equivalent to their State contributory pension.

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese said last night that this was being done to ensure equity of income among all priests so that retired priests did not end up with a salary which exceeded that of working priests.

She denied that it was related in any way to possible cost-saving to deal with the large amounts of money paid out by the archdiocese in child sex abuse compensation.

Last week, the archdiocese revealed that, to date, settlement of such claims had cost it more than 12.4 million ( 9.1 million in settlements and 3.3 million in legal costs for both sides).

The archdiocese has also spent in the region of 6 million in child protection and related services.

To date, the archdiocese has paid in full the income of all retired priests. That amounts, currently, to an average of 30,000 per annum.

Due to changes introduced to PRSI for the self-employed in 1988, many priests now retiring, at the age of 75 or who retired over the past 12-18 months, are entitled to a full contributory State pension of 11,600.

From now on, the archdiocese intends contributing just the difference between that contributory State pension and the current total salary for retired priests of 30,000, which comprises 27,000 plus an estimated 3,000 in increments for years of service.

It means that the archdiocese will now contribute 18,400 instead of 30,000 to relevant retired priests.

For various reasons, not all priests are in receipt of the contributory State pension. The archdiocese is to continue fully supporting them.

In addition, all retired priests are entitled to claim for special needs from the archdiocese, such as care assistance in the home and nursing home care. The archdiocese also provides housing for retired priests not living in parochial houses.

In Dublin, Catholic curates are paid 27,000 per annum and, while they hold office, parish priests receive that salary as well as an extra allowance of about 6,000. In both instances, accommodation is provided by their parish.

A small allowance is also paid towards housekeeping, while a number of priests employ a housekeeper out of their own funds.

In general, priests are responsible for their own tax returns, while those working outside parishes and who are in receipt of an income over and above these levels outlined, contribute to the support of colleagues.


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