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Online church plate collections introduced as priests denied COVID-19 social welfare payment

By Cian Molloy - 06 April, 2020

The EasyPay webpage for making donations to virtual church plates in the Dublin Archdiocese

As the Dublin Archdiocese moves to introduce virtual collection baskets, with the faithful viewing online Masses now invited to make online donations, it has emerged that Ireland’s priests do not qualify for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

Parishioners in Ireland’s most populous diocese can now make Mass donations via Payzone, an Irish-based payments website that is used by many sports clubs to collect annual subscriptions.

And with Dublin having two Sunday Mass church plate collections, you won’t be surprised that the ‘EasyPaymentsPlus’ service also allows you to make two separate weekly donations: one for the ‘common fund’, which supports priests in ministry and retired priests, and one for ‘Share’, the Dublin diocesan social solidarity fund.

A social media message to parishioners in Ballaly says: “There are options for once-off donations and regular donations. Our Church cannot function effectively without income. Please support in whatever way you can.”

Dublin is the first diocese to introduce a virtual payment system and other dioceses will be watching closely to see how successful the system is.

At present, parishes across the country are suffering a dramatic fall in income because of the ban on public communal worship and the absence of a weekly plate collection.

Most of Ireland’s priests are considered self-employed for social welfare and tax purposes. However, unlike most self-employed people who are now without an income, priests do not qualify for the €350 a week COVID-19 Unemployment Payment Benefit, says Fr Tim Hazelwood, a spokesman for the Association of Catholic Priests leadership team.

“The diocese was told by the social welfare people that because we are not leaving our place of work, we don’t qualify for the payment,” said Fr Hazelwood, who is PP of Killeagh in Co. Cork, part of the Cloyne diocese. “This is despite the fact that we have always paid our tax and our social welfare payments and we are now suffering a fall in income.

“It is annoying, but then when you put it in context with the sacrifices being made every day by those working in the health services it is a little matter.”

To make a donation to the virtual church plate collection for the Dubin Archdiocese, click here.

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