The Catholic Church in Scotland is calling on people to prioritise giving to the church over things like Netflix subscriptions and football matches.
It comes as the church says it's facing a perfect storm of financial challenges because declining attendance has led to less money on the collection plate.
Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, has been speaking to Premier about the situation.
“I think there's a cultural issue here with a lot of Catholics not really thinking about the financial implications of having a church or running a church. Perhaps there is also a reluctance to talk about money.
“Also, our clergy or priests don't see themselves – and this is fair enough - as the financial advisors or fundraisers. Their job is a spiritual one, they’re there to give pastoral leadership and guidance. Then the education comes in by saying to people, ‘Look, you need to prioritise’. You need to give some sort of perspective.
“I use the example of your Netflix subscription or your golf club membership, or your season ticket for football. Look at all those things and see in an average month whether you spend more on those things than you give to the church. If you do, you probably need a bit of a spiritual and financial reality check.”
According to the Times, Scotland’s most prominent Catholic diocese, the Archdiocese of Glasgow, saw its income plunge from about £26 million in 2018 to just £10 million in 2021.
Kearney says that since the pandemic, Catholic churches in Scotland have seen only about 75 per cent of people return to buildings to worship.
“It’s a bit of a perfect storm because, as you know, we're in the middle of an energy crisis. So not only are we seeing a decline here in income, but we're seeing quite a rapid rise in outgoings, particularly on things like energy bills.
“The important point is to get across to people that you must give. I know it’s hard, but it’s about perspective. That is looking at what you might use your money for in your leisure time and when you socialise and say, ‘Well, what about my faith? Where does that come in?’ Surely, it should come above those other things.
“People need to be encouraged back to church, to get something you can't get by sitting and watching a live stream. It’s the act of praying together.
“People all have different means and we wouldn't want someone who is managing on a very low income or maybe a pension or benefits to push themselves into poverty or even deeper into poverty. The doors of the churches will always be open. Everyone will always be welcomed.
“We're not asking people to pay at the turnstile or a ticket price on the door - that will never happen. But if you can afford it, please think about giving a bit more if you can.”