By going to Rome this Monday, Mgr Jacques Benoit-Gonnin, Bishop of Oise, may have the opportunity to meet with Pope Francis on a subject that particularly concerns him: the finances of his diocese.
After months of health crisis, which have hit the Church hard, the parishes are still struggling to recover.
“The suspension of the celebrations, then the establishment of a gauge for the offices, has permanently shaken up [our] finances, concedes the diocese.
The decline in the amount of quests weakened the economy of the parishes.
"" 2020 has been a special, surprising year, abounds the Bishop of Beauvais.
The Oise was the first to be struck by this virus.
Masses were stopped overnight, it was brutal.
In 2020, according to figures transmitted by the diocese of Oise, the collection, which amounted to 5,305,000 euros, decreased by 321,000 euros over one year.
"The collection which is used in particular to pay for the heating of parish houses has decreased by 515,000 euros", further details the Church in the Oise.
We had to tighten our belts
In this context, the parishes were able to count on the “great generosity” of Catholics.
This is particularly the case for the denarius, that is to say the voluntary contribution of the faithful which is used to finance, among other things, the salary of the laity or the salary of priests and the bishop.
The latter experienced a rebound of 6.8% last year to stand at 2,344,000 euros.
“There was an active response from the faithful,” said Bishop Jacques Benoit-Gonnin.
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Faced with this very degraded financial situation, the diocese had no other choice but to tighten its belt.
"In order to guarantee the sustainability of its exercise, in an exceptional economic and health context, we were able to reduce costs by 859,000 euros", we detail internally.
At the end of 2020, the diocese also set up a “solidarity fund”, financed by a call for donations, which brought in 36,000 euros.
Parishes merge in the face of the vocations crisis
A year and a half after the emergence of Covid-19 in France, the Church of the Oise does not yet see the end of the tunnel.
"We have not yet found the level preceding the year 2020, concedes Bishop Christophe Faivre, the new vicar general.
We are no longer in the world before, but we are not yet completely in the world after… ”
Still not financially recovered, the Church of the Oise must also deal with the vocations crisis, which forces it to thoroughly review its internal functioning.
Thus, as of this Sunday, the parishes of Lassigny, Guiscard, Ribécourt and Noyon will become a single parish: Notre-Dame de l'Espérance en Noyonnais.
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A sort of "super parish" whose ambition is to better distribute human resources across the territory and better respond to demand.
“Faced with the drop in the number of priests, we have to work differently, it is a necessary adaptation.
But this is not a period of withdrawal, insists the Bishop of Beauvais.
It is not a Church without a priest, with a service at a discount.
A merger of the parishes which will also be an opportunity to achieve new substantial savings.
"There is an important heritage that must be rationalized and reorganized", agrees the diocese.