Confined as all the employees of the diocese of Créteil, Philippe Guyard, the treasurer, telework. And the result of the two months that the Church of France has just gone through, he already knows the result for the finances of his diocese. No real need to strum on his calculator, he could do the head operation … By taking an average contribution of two euros to the quest, with 300 faithful in a parish, it’s some 600 € collected each Sunday. At the rate of 76 parishes in the diocese, the quest brings in around € 50,000 each week. When there is no celebration for ten weeks due to confinement, the calculator panics: the “shortfall” amounts to half a million euros …
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” No masses, no marriages, no baptisms, no offerings … And even the contributions for the Church’s money are decreasing “Notes Philippe Guyard who expects a loss of resources of € 700,000 on an annual budget of € 10m. In emergencies, you must have enough cash to finance fixed costs, compensate priests, salaries … The equation is the same in each diocese, and ten of them, out of a hundred, have real concerns about cash. ” This forces us to take a closer look at how we use our resources. It’s a form of counting that goes with the truth of our mission “Underlines Mgr Marc Stenger, bishop of Troyes.
Same thought for Bertrand de La Chanonie, bursar of the diocese of Luçon in the midst of territorial reform: “ Confinement is for everyone the opportunity for a new start, in terms of our finances, administratively but also pastoral. “
Pragmatic, the diocesan bursars play on all fronts: “ Very quickly, we implemented all the procedures: deferral of loans and social charges, partial unemployment for our 40 employees, explains Yves-Marie Delpit, bursar of the diocese of Périgueux. We managed to get through March and April, and we will get through May by scraping the drawer bottoms. “In the diocese of Verdun, the economist Didier Aynes estimates the dead loss at 150,000 €, while for the diocese of Lille, the calculator borders on 2 M €. The lack of a quest puts a strain on the budget, and the anxiety-provoking climate of confinement reduces contributions by one-third of the Church’s money. ” For the moment, we have prohibited any solicitation process, explains Jean-François Delaby, bursar of the diocese. Charitable and spiritual support actions were to be favored. “
” Even if it’s difficult to measure losses yet, we’ll run out of money “Notes Eliane Ginon, bursar of the diocese of Moulins. Once the ban on celebrations is lifted, worshipers are unlikely to return overnight. Without counting the summer period and less visited churches… ” Reserves help us get through the crisis, but they usually serve to balance the books: how will we do in December? “
Dioceses look closely at investments, consider postponements. ” We will honor scheduled hires, but we will postpone the replacements of people retiring, explains Archbishop Pascal Wintzer. What generates donations is our presence with the faithful, continues the Archbishop of Poitiers. We have to find a way to maintain the links. “
Since March 17, impossible to go to mass. Containment requires. But no question for this parishioner to depart from good habits: before settling down to pray with the TV mass, she puts some change in a box. At the end of ten weeks, it will make a small jackpot to deposit at the presbytery. ” We have had several messages from devotees who put aside, confirms Cécile Villain, to the communication of the diocese of Chartres. And to further encourage this generosity, a video was made with the priests: “ The faithful give for their priest, their parish priest. “
Deputy Secretary General responsible for economic affairs at the CEF, Ambroise Laurent reminds that the quest is not only a generous gesture but a liturgical act: ” Since there were masses broadcast over the Internet, it also made sense to set up the online quest. Almost one hundred thousand people participated, with very different amounts. The diocese of Autun thus raised € 20,000 in two months, via the CEF. In addition to the national quest, the diocese of Rennes has set up its own link: in March and April, just over 500 donations raised 100,000 €, notes Régis Boccard, his treasurer.
The Denarius of the Church
” We launched our campaign from the last fortnight before confinement, says Benoît Dehen, diocesan treasurer in Bordeaux. Are we going to catch up by around 20%? This is not to be taken for granted, knowing that natural erosion is already on the order of 5 to 7%. “Coming out of confinement, the money of the Church is 10 to 50% behind depending on the dioceses. But the faithful can contribute all year round. Several bishops have already sensitized Catholics, like Mgr Jean-Louis Balsa, bishop of Viviers: ” To support the diocese, I invite you to make an exceptional gesture for the money of the Church, complementary to your usual gifts. “
Even in Alsace-Moselle, where the Church benefits from the concordatory regime which pays priests, the dioceses have to face the crisis: “ For us, the concern is not yet financial, but already really pastoral, especially with families affected by mourning in a region particularly affected by the pandemic “, Confides Olivier Guibert, treasurer of the diocese of Metz.
A national campaign in June
” This period forces us to revise our misconceptions about the alleged wealth of the Church: it barely has the means to live “, Confides Laurent Charignon, treasurer of the diocese of Marseille. The numbers count. But they are part of the concern for the common good, as Bishop Benoît Rivière puts it: ” We are going to have to spread out construction sites but at the same time, we are making local businesses and artisans work and I don’t want to stop everything. “And the bishop of Autun further underlines the impact of the health crisis:” After confinement, gaps will widen in French society and new inequalities will appear. The diocese will have to question a profound change in certain pastoral objectives. “
At the time of deconfinement, the restart is a vast project: celebrations, but also education, charitable actions … And financial contribution. ” Giving is basically a way of living your faith. From June 13 to 28, there will be a major national campaign to encourage donations and support all possible contributions to the life of the Church, masses, Church moneys, legacies … “, announces Ambroise Laurent. A mobilization that goes beyond the economic aspect of the epidemic, and joins the long-term structural work, already undertaken by the dioceses to find a new economic balance.
Three main sources supply the funds of parishes and dioceses.
– The quests: they represent almost a third of resources. This is an overall loss during containment, which online quests amortize without offsetting.
– The casual: means the sums paid for baptisms, marriages and burials. Given the probable postponements, there is a real “shortfall” over several months.
– The money of the Church: the large annual collection is managed in each diocese. Usually launched in the spring, before the Easter holidays, the money is currently lagging behind and can be made up in the coming months.