Contrast this with what is happening in the post-Vatican II Church:
Prior to Vatican II, a typical large urban or suburban Catholic parish might have had two, three or four or more priests. Their salaries were small compared to the laity. They drove simple cars usually owned by the parish. If there was a parish school or a religious order's private school, it was staffed mostly by religious who earned meager salaries thus keeping tuition very low and allowing the poorer class to use Catholic schools. The budgets of both the parish and the school were meager as were the staffs. Volunteer laity filled in the gaps. Some full time or part time lay positions were of meager salary.
After Vatican II it was proclaimed by the elites that the decline in vocations to both the priesthood and religious life as well as the exodus of many from their religious vocations was a good thing because the laity could then take their rightful place in the institutional structures of the Church. And the mantra was that we needed highly educated and trained laity in these positions once held by priests and religious. This meant that we needed full-time workers on the parish level who were paid a competitive living wage. We needed to separate positions so the laity that hired could focus on their particular area.
For example, a parish would hire a full-time Director of Religious education who would then need to hire people to direct the RCIA, CCD, adult religious education formation and bible studies and the like. The DRE would supervise the other paid staff and of course there needed to be administrative staff to support the professionals.
Then there needed to be full time directors of music who then would hire assistants for children choirs, extra Masses and paid cantors and choir members.
Then there would be pastoral assistants to do what priests once did such as visiting the sick, the homebound and creating ministries for parishioners to attend.
Priests then were freed up to go to meetings galore to make should the monster bureaucracy was ticking along okay and well-oiled and well paid.
I know of some parishes where the priests don't even meet with the bereaved. Laity are delegated to do this, make home visits, plan the liturgies and take care of the details. The priest shows up for the funeral Mass, but a lay pastoral assistant might lead the Vigil for the Deceased and a deacon or in his absence a layperson will do the Rite of Committal at the graveside. The priest becomes a functionary disconnected from the messiness of grief.
With the loss of religious nuns and brothers in our Catholic schools, laity were hired for all positions and their salaries had to be competitive with public school teachers. Thus school budgets sky-rocketed pushing the poor out of our Catholic schools and making them academies like any other type of school with the religious dimension weakened or simply a veneer.
The worst offenders of the post-Vatican II bloated bureaucracies is on the diocesan level. When I was ordained in 1980 our diocesan administration was divided in the following way:
The chancery housed the financial administration of the Diocese and was where the bishop worked. There may have been an executive secretary for the bishop, a financial administrator who had a secretary and a few others working in a rather small downtown Savannah building across the street from the Colonial Cemetery.
Then there was a small separate building for the Diocesan Tribunal. It may have had a priest or two and a few administrative people. It was a small, lean mean operating machine. It was within walking distance of the chancery and both near the Cathedral.
Then some miles away on Skidaway Island (great name no?) there is a huge piece of property where the diocesan high school seminary had been but also a place for a summer camp going back to the 1940's. The old seminary building housed the Department of Christian Formation that would have included the Superintendent of Catholic Schools (a nun), The Director of Religious Education, (a nun) and maybe a priest to assist part time to assist with plans and programs. There was a newer post-Vatican II position of Social Ministry director (a nun). There might have been one or two administrative people for this professional staff.
I was the vocation director but full time at the Cathedral as associate pastor and then later I was pastor in Augusta and moved my vocation office with me. Do you think I had an administrative assistant? NO!
Fast forward 35 years. I don't have the statistics but the number of employees full time and part time has grown extremely considerably as has the budget for salaries and benefits.
Fortune Magazine has a good article on Pope Francis as business man. You can read the whole article HERE. But the following excerpt captures my sentiments about our post-Vatican II rich, bloated Church:
...The revelations have finally lifted the veil on the rampant
mismanagement that the old Vatican hierarchy long concealed from the
faithful. It now appears that much of the cash that Catholics send to
Rome that’s supposed to be helping the poor is being clandestinely
misused to run the bloated Vatican bureaucracy.
believes in lean, efficient government for a basic reason: The less the
Vatican spends on administration, the more it can lavish on what the
Pope cares most about, helping the poor.
...Pope (Francis) first makes a general point about waste in the Curia,
the Vatican’s administrative arm:
“It is universally ascertained … that the number of employees has
grown too much. This fact creates a huge waste of money that can be
avoided.” He goes on to condemn a “30 percent increase in employee
expenses” over the past five years.
Pope Francis goes on to demonstrate that he fully understands the
importance of competitive bidding and stringent enforcement of
“We have to create a protocol for estimates and also for the last
step, payments. One of the department heads told me they come to me with
an invoice so we have to pay. No, we don’t. If a job was done without
an estimate, without authorization, we don’t pay.” Who cares if a “poor
clerk looks bad?” Concludes the Pontiff: “God help us, but we don’t
My Final Comment: What Pope Francis is trying to do administratively in the Vatican is a model for all dioceses and parishes.
It use to be seen as funny when Pope Saint John XXIII was asked "how many people work at the Vatican?" that his answer was "about half!" That isn't funny any longer given the egregious amount of money spent for so little especially when so many fewer personnel paid a pauper's wage prior to Vatican II did so much more!