Monday, January 05, 2004

Don't charge fees for sacraments, North Carolina bishop says
RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- Bishop F. Joseph Gossman of Raleigh has approved a policy that prohibits parishes from charging fees for weddings, baptisms and funeral liturgies. Parishes can still request an offering of no more than $200 when the church is to be used for the sacrament of matrimony by a nonparishioner. The offering would help pay for the preparation, cleaning, lighting and heating or air conditioning of the church.
"In reviewing our sacramental life," said Msgr. Tim O'Connor, diocesan director of liturgy and the author of the new policy, "we realized that the fees attached to the sacraments gave us some concern." Across the diocese, he said, the fees charged especially for marriages of nonparishioners were "all over the chart," from $100 to as much as $1,500. "We felt that was not fair," Msgr. O'Connor said. "The sacraments are God's gifts to us, and should be freely given to the people."

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