Coronavirus lockdown hits Church finances

Broderick Pabillo
Manila Archdiocese Administrator, Bishop Broderick Pabillo. Photo by CBCP.

WITH the coronavirus 2019 or COVID-19 pandemic shutting the doors of churches and other places of worship, the shortage of offerings has caused a drastic drop in church collections.

Some Catholic bishops admitted that the two-month lockdown has hurt the budget of parishes and dioceses.

“The financial effect to the parishes is tremendous,” Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the administrator of the Manila archdiocese, said.

The archdioceses and dioceses have cancelled public Masses since mid-March when community transmission of the virus was confirmed by health authorities.

How long parishes can go without receiving contributions from parishioners remains to be seen.

But Bishop Pabillo said that parishes also have to support its personnel and declining collections could threaten the financial security of parishes.

“And many parishes also shell out money to help the poor in their areas by giving food to them. The parishes help one another. Those who have resources help those who do not have enough,” he said.

The Diocese of Balanga has also taken a hit from the pandemic but it did not stop its parishes from helping those in need.

“Yes, there is huge financial effect of the ECQ to the parishes,” Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos said.

The bishop and his clergy donated their monthly allowances to help sustain the salaries of their personnel.

“We are utilizing our savings and supposed to be the every year dividends of the priests,” Santos said.

To also help their flock, the diocese has foregone for two months the obligations of those renting their properties.

In the central Philippine diocese of San Carlos, parishes have been urged to minimize spending, “especially our capital expenses.”

“We expect our revenues to fall. People have no money and we have to do a lot of charitable works,” Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said.

He also said that the general policy of the diocese is to avoid employee layoffs “so as not to add to the unemployment problem of our people”.

“If need be, we have to retool or reschedule our personnel to take on new jobs that the new situation calls for,” the prelate said.

An umbrella group of lay Catholic organizations has earlier asked the faithful to support their parishes during the pandemic.

The Council of the Laity of the Philippines, or Laiko, appealed to Catholics to continue their contributions as an “important and fundamental duty” as church members.