Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Elephant in the Room

A good friend emailed me last night and drew my attention to one major anxiety of Tibernauts: money! Yes, it really is the elephant in the room, isn't it?


The Tablet article that announced the appointment of Bishop Alan Hopes to the Ordinariate in England and Wales also had this to say:


Another important issue to be resolved concerns the funding of the clergy. Some Anglican clergy own properties; some don’t. But all will leave behind their Church of England final-salary pensions. Priests within the ordinariate will be paid and housed by it, and there are rumours of Anglo-Catholic benefactors bank-rolling the operation to make it viable. 



But wherever the money comes from, the stipends will be relatively small and ordinariate priests will be allowed, and may even be encouraged, to take on secular work. The St Barnabas Society, which looks after Anglican clergy who are reordained as Catholic priests, said it will offer financial and pastoral support to ordinariate clergy. 
Secretary of the society Fr Robin Sanders admitted that finding employment might be hard for clergy who hadn’t worked outside the Church for years. 

Yes, money is an issue. In 1992, there was no Ordinariate option. Priests had to find dioceses who would take them on, and, in several cases, a wife and children also. Sometimes bishops made extravagant promises that were not lived up to, others shrugged and admitted that though they were desperate for priests, they hadn't got the funds to support a whole family.


Catholic priests get paid a great deal less than Anglicans and, as I remarked on a post on the Anglo-Catholic blog a few months ago, the money comes from all sorts of strange corners. Married priests do manage, but, like the rest of us, they have to forage a bit to put together a decent wage. Those concerned would do best to speak to one of the married Catholic priests.


The Ordinariates will be in a different situation. There is unlikely to be compensation as there was in 1992, unless Parliament can again be called on to intervene. The Ordinarates' desire for independence will mean that in fairness the ordinary dioceses cannot be directly called upon to bankroll something which will bring them no discernible benefit. Here, I think, the role of Bishop Alan Hopes is going to be crucial. If the first man to lead the Ordinariate were to be a recent Tibernaut, he would find it immensely difficult to establish relations with the dioceses, and I think that these relations are going to be key to the success or failure of the project. Alan Hopes already has all the right contacts. Let me unpack that.


Even if the Ordinariate finds ways of persuading wealthy benefactors to help out, or manages to bring with it funds from various currently-Anglican societies, there is still going to be a massive initial investment that will have to be made in the matter of things like houses, before one can even think about clerical salaries. The Ordinariate is going to have to be fairly reliant, one way or another, on the co-operation of ordinary Catholic dioceses; there is no way that it can establish itself, let alone survive, in a hortus conclusus.


But with some co-operation, this ought to work fine. One set of resources that most Catholic dioceses have right now (and could be persuaded to share) are houses, mostly in parishes that have lost a resident priest and sharing now one priest with the neighbouring parish. The Adur Valley is in this situation, having two houses. However, these houses are not owned (for the most part) by the diocese but (according to Canon—though not Civil—Law) by the parish. This means that the parish has the right in Canon Law to use its house to benefit itself, whether by accommodating a priest, or else by collecting rent from it. A diocese that wanted to take that house away to accommodate an Ordinariate priest (and maybe a family) would feel the wrath of the parish unless the parish were to derive some real benefit. The benefit need not be great. One Sunday Mass and one from time to time in the week need be all that was required—the pastoral work would continue to be the responsibility of the local diocesan priest. In other words, this could be a better deal than the common house-for-duty arrangement in the Church of England, because an Ordinariate priest would not, potentially, need to undertake pastoral work in the diocesan parish, but could concentrate on building up his own, Ordinariate, parish, and/or by supplementing his income in other ways. He could also use the diocesan church buildings to begin his congregation since it seems unlikely that the Church of England will permit buildings to be shipped over the Tiber. This will only work if the Ordinariate clergy are willing to work alongside diocesan clergy. If they hold themselves aloof, things will be very much more difficult.


And, of course, the various TAC congregations around the world will already have their entire set-up running and functioning, and will not need this sort of arrangement.


There are various chaplaincies that can be obtained. I see that Jeffrey Steel de Cura Animarum has got himself a school chaplaincy. Now, he's got a big family and seems to be managing fine (or well enough, anyway). To diocesan priests, who are getting more and more stretched, the idea of a chaplaincy in their parish being taken by an Ordinariate priest should be be a very desirable thing. Not just schools, but hospitals, prisons, airports, military bases, can be sources of income if properly negotiated, and need not prevent the establishment of Ordinariate cures of souls. Many of these chaplaincies are now being staffed by lay people; to have a priest doing the job would be wonderful.


My friend writes that there is an expectation that wives will need to work, and possibly be the larger breadwinner. In these days of recession this is an unfortunate necessity; indeed it is not something that the Church imposes, but has become the norm in the world, part of our modern way of life. I guess it all depends on the standard of living required. But I have to say that for the Latin Church, celibacy is the norm, and has been so for a very long time. I do not think that people and their whole families have the right to expect to be maintained in the standard to which they have become accustomed on a single clerical salary when the Church dispenses them from the necessity of celibacy—not that this is what my friend was asking for.


I do not understand that reference in the Tablet quotation about losing final-salary pensions. Perhaps someone can explain it. I cannot think that it means that all pensions for years already worked are to be taken away: that would surely be illegal.


And what about taking up tent-making? Some may feel it necessary to take a secular job to supplement their income. Unless one is really trying to support a family of ten single-handedly, and stay entirely away from the diocesan system, I do hope that this isn't going to be necessary. But it might, I suppose, especially in the early days before ordination. I cannot really make any comment here, because each person knows his or her skills and inclinations. It might, again, we worth contacting your local Catholic diocese to see whether they have any jobs available. Parishes and schools often need office help of various kinds, and this may provide just enough to tide people over. Invigilation (proctoring, to our transatlantic brethren) in schools can also be a good find for those who can get free during the day.


No doubt people can come up with other ideas. But what might be apparent is that clergy might initially have to be prepared to be nomads on the earth; the Ordinariate is a wholly new thing, without history or financial backing. It's going to take a while for it to get to the point where it can guarantee a living to all its clergy. With God's grace it will get there sooner rather than later, but a lot of this will depend on how the layfolk will also make the transition. On that, we need to wait and see.

8 comments:

John F H H said...

Father,
Clergy in this situation are asked to have spoken to their Anglican superiors by the end of October.

So the Tablet reported.

But, as I have commented elsewhere, the columns of a small-circulation wekly is a strange place to hear of such a request.

This contrasts with the situation in the U.S., where Archbishop [soon to be Cardinal] Wuerl has requested that everyone - groups, individuals, priests, laity - interested in the Ordinariate contact his office.

Searching for "Ordinariate" are the E&W Bishops' Conference site reveals two references, following the bishops' meeting of November 2009.

I have received nothing from my "Anglican superiors": I only hope that the first week in November does not produce reports of a lack of interest in the Ordinariate based on a small number of responses received by the end of October.

Regards,
John U.K.

Pastor in Valle said...

John: Somehow I don't see the Anglican bishops taking an initiative in this area. And you are right that it is a very small window of opportunity. But this is, of course, only the first wave, trying to assess just how big (or small) the movement is going to be, and where it will be concentrated.

Et Expecto said...

It seems to me that the Tablet article in not a reliable sourse of information. If Bishop Hopes has been named as the first ordinary of the Ordinariate, where is the official announcement? Also, where did this thing about clergy contacting theit Anglican superiors by the end of October come from?

To my mind, this article included a lot of guesswork.

You refer to the suggestion that clergy will be excluded from their Anglican pension scheme. Again perhaps guesswork, but it could be the case. I understand that the Anglican clergy pension scheme is non-contributary. This could mean that there is no legal entitlement to a pension for someone who drops out. Does anyone know the answer to this? In any event, there surely is a moral obligation on the part of the C of E.

Sir Watkin said...

Church of England clergy may currently claim a pension at the age of 65. A full pension requires 40 years' service. Those who have served less than 40 years receive a pension that is reduced pro rata.

Clergy who leave (stipendiary) parish ministry before 65 may claim their pension (based on the number years they did serve in parish ministry) when they reach that age.

This applies to all who have served as parish clergy, regardless of what they do subsequently. It explicitly includes those who have resigned their orders.

(See: http://www.cofe.anglican.org/about/cepb/pensions/ceps/ypqaonline/leavi.html)

There is no provision for denying individuals a pension because of what they do subsequently. An Anglican priest could resign his orders to become a devil worshipper and still claim a pension in due course.

In a sense the Tablet is correct when it says that "all will leave behind their Church of England final-salary pensions": anyone who leaves a particular employer leaves behind the associated pension scheme when he does so, and ceases to accrue years of pensionable service. This is such a trivial point that it is hardly worth making. One hopes that the inclusion of this remark is merely an example of poor journalism, not deliberate disinformation.

Any Anglican clergy who have been alarmed by this or similar reports should be reassured that they have absolutely nothing to worry about on this score, and anyone who implies otherwise is talking nonsense.

(There are changes of detail coming in on 1 January 2011, but they do not alter the general principles outlined here.)

+ Edwin said...

There is no question of pension earned to date not being paid once pensionable age is reached. If anyone doubts this he simply need contact the C of E Pensions Board, who are invariably very helpful. +E

Fr. Christopher G. Phillips said...

I can't imagine there will be any difficulty with clergy pensions from the Church of England. For the first three years of my Anglican ministry I served in a parish in Bristol, and during those three years I was included in the pension scheme. To this day (even though I have been a Catholic priest for some twenty-seven years) I receive an annual report informing me of the amount I have in the fund, and which I can claim at the appropriate time. Obviously, the amount is small, since it covers only three years -- but it's mine for the asking.

Anonymous said...

Father,

I am adding a bit of perspective from America, from the Episcopal Church. Salary and perks can be very good, but the spiritual disorder and the (un)employment problems that arise from public disagreement with one's bishop can also be very bad. Spiritual and ecclesial stability are what I am most thankful for, but a measure of employment and economic security are also something I look forward to as a Catholic priest. Believe me, I don't think any of us Ordinariate-bound clergy are looking to match the top tier earnings of our seminary classmates or even attain the wage and benefit guidelines of the clergy associations. (ever more out of touch with reality, btw)

To the particulars--

Here, if one is vested in the TEC pension plan that cannot be taken away. However, the benefit scheme is weighted very favorably toward those who have a spike in earnings at the end of their ministry. Also, there is a requirement of five years contribution to the scheme. In my case of fifteen years of lay employment (some part-time and some full-time) and three years full-time and two years part-time clerical employment there will be no pension benefit at all from Episcopal Church sources. All contributions to the plan stay with the plan if that 5 year mark of contributions has not been met. Too bad, but we can live with it.

In this metropolitan area there are adequate TAC clergy to serve their congregations, those that are likely to convert. While I look forward to working with these fine priests, and in preparation for conversion to the ordinariate am moving my family to their nearest parish, I don't think I will be needed as pastor. So, I am looking at the needs of the greater Catholic Church in our area and where I might serve as a priest. In this archdiocese there are a number of Catholic chaplaincies that are vacant. One is a civil service position in a veteran's facility which goes unfilled because it requires a priest (with a preference for a military veteran); it has a living wage. There are also a number of Catholic hospitals where the bulk of the pastoral care is done by Protestant ministers and lay Catholics, presumably because there have been few Catholic priests available; these also have living wages. Whether married former Anglican priests will be welcome to these ministries is an open question. This archdiocese has a history of hostility to Anglican converts and has been very forward thinking in lay pastoral ministry and administration. (Believe me, we are starting out with a deficit of good will here on the west coast where National Catholic Reporter is considered moderate to conservative)

Fortunately, for me and my family, my wife has good employment. It has provided me the ability to serve as a priest at a small salary and for periods no salary. Her employment is not portable, however, and we cannot move. It would be enough for me to work at even the salary and housing/car allowance level of our local Catholic clergy. Even a low salary coupled with my wife's wages would allow me to serve the Ordinariate and the local archdiocese in at least one parish and one non-parish ministry. (thank God for the presbyteras/ abounas/ clergy wives of the Church!)

There is good news on this front. I am making a big presumption that our archbishop-coadjutor will be friendly to Anglican Catholics and will welcome us into Catholic ministry. (Thanks to Fr. Phillips for establishing such a good reputation; I'll do my best to live up to it)

My two bits.

Thank you Father for your posts and thank you for your welcome into the Catholic Church. My prayer is that we Anglican converts will bless in a measure the rest of the Church as it has blessed us in these years of separation and will bless us even more in unity.

God bless you, Father.

Father Bill

Anonymous said...

Father,

I am adding a bit of perspective from America, from the Episcopal Church. Salary and perks can be very good, but the spiritual disorder and the (un)employment problems that arise from public disagreement with one's bishop can also be very bad. Spiritual and ecclesial stability are what I am most thankful for, but a measure of employment and economic security are also something I look forward to as a Catholic priest. Believe me, I don't think any of us Ordinariate-bound clergy are looking to match the top tier earnings of our seminary classmates or even attain the wage and benefit guidelines of the clergy associations. (ever more out of touch with reality, btw)

To the particulars--

Here, if one is vested in the TEC pension plan that cannot be taken away. However, the benefit scheme is weighted very favorably toward those who have a spike in earnings at the end of their ministry. Also, there is a requirement of five years contribution to the scheme. In my case of fifteen years of lay employment (some part-time and some full-time) and three years full-time and two years part-time clerical employment there will be no pension benefit at all from Episcopal Church sources. All contributions to the plan stay with the plan if that 5 year mark of contributions has not been met. Too bad, but we can live with it.

In this metropolitan area there are adequate TAC clergy to serve their congregations, those that are likely to convert. While I look forward to working with these fine priests, and in preparation for conversion to the ordinariate am moving my family to their nearest parish, I don't think I will be needed as pastor. So, I am looking at the needs of the greater Catholic Church in our area and where I might serve as a priest. In this archdiocese there are a number of Catholic chaplaincies that are vacant. One is a civil service position in a veteran's facility which goes unfilled because it requires a priest (with a preference for a military veteran); it has a living wage. There are also a number of Catholic hospitals where the bulk of the pastoral care is done by Protestant ministers and lay Catholics, presumably because there have been few Catholic priests available; these also have living wages. Whether married former Anglican priests will be welcome to these ministries is an open question. This archdiocese has a history of hostility to Anglican converts and has been very forward thinking in lay pastoral ministry and administration. (Believe me, we are starting out with a deficit of good will here on the west coast where National Catholic Reporter is considered moderate to conservative)

Fortunately, for me and my family, my wife has good employment. It has provided me the ability to serve as a priest at a small salary and for periods no salary. Her employment is not portable, however, and we cannot move. It would be enough for me to work at even the salary and housing/car allowance level of our local Catholic clergy. Even a low salary coupled with my wife's wages would allow me to serve the Ordinariate and the local archdiocese in at least one parish and one non-parish ministry. (thank God for the presbyteras/ abounas/ clergy wives of the Church!)

There is good news on this front. I am making a big presumption that our archbishop-coadjutor will be friendly to Anglican Catholics and will welcome us into Catholic ministry. (Thanks to Fr. Phillips for establishing such a good reputation; I'll do my best to live up to it)

My two bits.

Thank you Father for your posts and thank you for your welcome into the Catholic Church. My prayer is that we Anglican converts will bless in a measure the rest of the Church as it has blessed us in these years of separation and will bless us even more in unity.

God bless you, Father.

Father Bill