Justice in the Church
Just Treatment for Church Ministers
Excellent Background Articles

 

Does it Pay to Work for the Church?

Laypeople who make a living in the church love what they do—but don’t always love the pay.
Robert J. McClory

This article provides an excellent overview of the status of lay ecclesial ministers in the Catholic Church. Includes statistics, comparative studies of financial compensation and job satisfaction as well as examples of difficult working situations. It quotes FutureChurch’s Sr. Chris Schenk’s concerns about Co-Workers in the Vineyard:

As co-coordinator of the Women in Church Leadership Project, St. Joseph Sister Christine Schenk has been in contact with hundreds of pastoral administrators and other church professionals during the past 10 years. She concurs that progress in compensation is undeniable but emphasizes the pressing need for improved support from parishes and dioceses in the continuing education needs of lay ministers.

“For seminarians, church support is taken for granted,” she says, “but lay ministers still often must pay their own way.”

She also has misgivings about a statement in the bishops’ otherwise highly supportive Co-workers in the Vineyard document, which said, “It may be desirable in some situations that the term of a lay ecclesiastical minister conclude, even if subject to renewal, when the pastor’s term of office comes to an end. The potential for tension is present in every transition.

It’s a “troubling message that could lead to abuse,” says Schenk, since it implies that the first priority in a parish transition is the needs of the new pastor, whereas the first consideration should be “the needs of the parish and the staff that has been serving the parish.

To read more click here:  http://uscatholic.claretians.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=9615

Where Faith Abides, Employees Have Few Rights

Diana B. Henriques

This 2006 article from the New York Times provides an excellent overview of some civil law obstacles to just treatment for church ministers. Separation of Church and State values in the U.S. legal system can leave church workers defenseless in the face of injustice. To read more click here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/09/business/09religious.html