Pope Francis: No price list for sacraments

Pontiff says, in some instances, "we don’t know whether we are in God’s house or in a supermarket"

Pope Francis at the general audience in the Paul VI Hall on Aug. 9, 2017. (Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA)

“Churches cannot be like some kind of supermarket, places of commerce perhaps with a price list for the sacraments,” affirmed Pope Francis at morning Mass on November 24 at Casa Santa Marta.

The Pontiff – Vatican Radio reports – comments on two readings: the first from the Book of the Maccabees, then the Gospel of Luke, in which he reads about the purification of the temple. Just as Judah and his brethren reconsecrate the profaned temple, so Christ expels the merchants from the house of the Lord.

St. John Chrysostom reproached those who made so many offers to adorn, to embellish the physical temple and did not take care of the needy. He would scold and say, “No, this is not good. First the service, then the ornamentation”. Purify, then, the temple which is the others.

Then comes gratuitousness, “How many times do we enter a temple with sadness; let’s think of a parish, a bishopric… yet we don’t know whether we are in God’s house or in a supermarket. There are trades going on there, there is also a price list for the sacraments. There is a lack of gratuitousness”, the Pope denounces. But “God saved us gratuitously, he did not make us pay anything,” he points out.

Before concluding, Jorge Mario Bergoglio anticipates an objection: money is needed to keep structures going, to keep the priests; “You give gratuitousness – he assures – and God will do the rest. God will do what is missing. Churches ought to be “service churches, free churches”.

Full story at La Stampa.

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  1. Finally, a Pope who will shut down the selling of the sacraments. How often do you go to a parish that wants to charge you a fee for a wedding, a baptism, etc. When I was a lot younger, many churches in the northeast charged “pew rent.” A usher actually went from pew to pew to collect the pew rent making change as he went. I don’t have an issue about paying the organist or the janitor, but not for the sacraments themselves.

    • Bob One what is it with your leftist mindset that leads you to believe that the local parish is a cash generating operation.

  2. Anonymous 2 says:

    Better get the word to a lot of parishes in (what did you expect) Diocese of San Jose. There are many charges to arrange a church funeral and they run $350-$500 or more. Staff fees, of course.

    Of course.

    • Linda Maria says:

      The cost of a Catholic funeral and burial, is now very expensive, no matter where you go! The Church really ought to have some kind of program, to help all Catholics, in their time of need, regardless of their financial situation! There are also many new kinds of programs— such as group preparations for infant Baptisms (or first Sacraments, too) in which a fee is involved. I am told that the parishes now have these fees, becuase of big financial losses, since Vatican II– many loyal Catholics, of large families, who for generations were big financial contributors to their parishes, are now dead and gone– and younger generations of Catholics are not aware of financial responsibilities to their Church.

      • Linda Maria says:

        This financial situation of our Church today, with strange-looking fees– can seem quite shocking! Yet– even worse! — there are also many priests who worry that their parish churches (and schools!) may someday close, despite all valorous attempts to keep them alive and growing! Already, Catholics have seen closures and merges of a great number of parishes and schools, throughout the world!! If the Holy Father wants to eliminate abuses– great! But he ought to establish a really strong, dependable, truly-Catholic Church, worldwide, to provide for the religious needs of all Catholics and their families– and then, financial support will naturally flow!!

  3. Our parish has no price for Sacraments. I tell them that the usual donation is $200 for a wedding and explain that just keeping the lights and air conditioning on covers that. Then I give them the other option: “Of course, you can donate 10% of what you are spending on the limousines, flowers, photographers, video technicians, and reception. Choose whichever is less expensive.” People who tell me “We really need a discount on our wedding.” and then show up with a $5,000 wedding dress and 6 Limousines are just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve done weddings for free in parishes where people truly had no money. So this is not about being cheap, it’s about the materialization of “weddings” and turning them into elaborate shows of…

  4. At my parishes sacraments were free and offered regularly: weddings, baptisms, communions, confirmations, anointings, penance. When people wanted to use the church on their own schedule to create a private ceremony to celebrate an event such as a wedding, we asked for a donation for the private ceremony, but always offered for free the public celebration of the sacraments. Churches do not pay bills off the Sunday collection in many places. Those who can afford to pay businesses for a wedding dress, a limousine, flowers, event rental and dinner to surround their private ceremony should ask to make a generous donation to the parish on momentous occasions.

    • Linda Maria says:

      I think that all of the Catholic Dioceses all need to have a formal, affordable Catholic program, for planning for Catholic funerals and burials!! The charges today, are far too much, for many! It is also a great shock to me– to see elderly Catholics who don’t have much money, nake affordable Catholic funeral pre-planning arrangements — and end up with maybe the Last Rites, by the priest, but yet– no Rosary, and saddest of all!– no funeral Mass, and a cremation– and maybe burial of the urn in a Catholic cemetery (very expensive!)!! A great shock, to me! It is one of our Church’s seven Corporal Works of Mercy– to bury the Dead! (And bury them in a Catholic way!)

    • Linda Maria says:

      I may be a little mistaken, on charges of some Catholic parishes, today– for first Sacraments, for children. But it seems to me, that many parishes now have a charge, to enter your child in a preparation class, for first Sacraments. And they also have a charge, to enter your child in a year-long Religious Ed. program, each year. I think in some cases, lay Catechists are also hired, and paid, for these Religious
      Ed. programs..

  5. The money spent on weddings nowadays is ridiculous! I encourage couples to invest in pre-marital counseling with a licensed counselor who is also a practicing Roman Catholic. The wedding lasts a day…a marriage is supposed to last a lifetime.

  6. I ask the good priests out there, is it possible to be married in a Catholic Church with just the priest, the bride and groom and two witnesses? Does one have to have a big wedding? Of course, i know, there shoild be stipends for the priests and use of the church. My husband and I had a very simple wedding and even smaller twenty-fifth anniversary repetition of vows. I think two often people spend more than they have on a wedding, end up in debt and divorced later.

  7. So good to hear from you Fr. Richard!!

  8. Devil’s advocate here. (That’s a pre-Vatican II term.) As for beautifying our Church, which is an extension of adoration of God, nothing should be spared. As He said Himself: “The poor you will always have with you, but not Me”. As for stipends and cost of use of the church bldg, common sense helps, but Our Lord also said: “The laborer is entitled to his wages.”

  9. Basic Economics: There’s no free lunch.

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