NEWS REPORT by Brian Coyne...
The rumblings of disquiet in the Archdiocese of Sydney look set to continue. Catholica has been sent a copy of a letter addressed to "fellow priests" in the Archdiocese which seeks to apply pressure on the Archdiocesan authorities for a salary and superannuation increase for priests.
The letter claims that Sydney is the only diocese where priests have not had a salary increase in the last three years and suggests "a most generous change of heart is needed" on the part of the archdiocesan authorities.
The letter says, "there has been concern by priests with regard to the money spent by the Archdiocese on new initiatives" and goes on to argue that the Archdiocese seems to have had little difficulty in justifying significant property purchases for the University of Notre Dame.
Catholica has been able to confirm the authenticity of the letter, which is dated 18th June 2007, but has been unable to contact the priest who wrote it as he is now on leave. The priest who wrote the letter was not involved in the release of the letter to Catholica. It has been written by a well-respected senior priest of an inner-city parish. In overall tone it is not so much a letter of demand as an argument requesting some compassion for priests and their needs on the part of diocesan authorities.
It cites the case where the authorities did respond with compassion — after some pressure — in the case of an 85 year-old retired priest who was left without transport when his car was written off in an accident…
A retired Sydney priest (85 years of age) who had not previously availed himself of any of the supports for retired priests, approached one of the Archdiocesan Support Team for assistance in the purchase of a car, as his car was written off in an accident. Through the Care for Priests' Committee he was offered a $5,000 loan to be repaid within one month, which could be used in conjunction with the insurance claim to purchase a second hand car- via the Car Plan. The priest was also offered the normal facilities of retired priests (from the Remuneration Fund) which he accepted plus assurances (from the Clerical Sick Fund) for out of pocket health treatment expenses. Approaches were made to the Chancery by the Remuneration Fund and a friend of the priest to give more reasonable support to a priest who has never made any calls on the Archdiocese for assistance; and a most generous change of heart ensured, where the $5,000 was gifted to the priest.
While generally conciliatory and even pleading in tone to the archdiocesan authorities, the letter also ends on a stronger note underlining the general sense of disquiet that journalists have been picking up for some time amongst priests and other employees of the Church in the Archdiocese of Sydney. The letter writer concludes his letter with this paragraph…
It is remarkable that the Archdiocese has decided not to replace the Director of Catholic Mission with a Sydney Diocesan priest. This was the case with the replacement of the Adult Education Director and the Director of Liturgy. There is also no Sydney Diocesan priest involved with the running of World Youth Day on an inter-Diocesan level.
The full text of the letter follows…
June 18, 2007
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