Catholic priests are perhaps the lowest paid ministers of religion in Australia, according to limited figures available to the public.
Parish priests in the Archdiocese of Perth are allowed to accumulate $29,000 a year from first collections at Mass, with any extra funds distributed to low-income parishes and inactive clergy.
For priests who earn between up to $50,000 for the year, 60 cents out of every dollar over the $29,000 benchmark is then used to assist other priests.
Once more than $50,000 is being collected, 90 cents out of every dollar goes to help other clergy reach the minimum $29,000 annual pay.
While different dioceses around the country vary, the salary of priests in Perth makes for interesting comparison with ministers of Christian denominations.
In New South Wales, Presbyterian ministers earnt $48,648 annually last year, while a Uniting Church minister collected $77,261.
Furthermore, in South Australia, a Lutheran pastor in 2011 was paid between $49,760 and $66,079. In the same state in 2013, a junior Baptist pastor received an annual salary of $62,417; while a senior pastor received $77,909.
While it is unclear how many parishes in Perth cannot raise the $29,000 minimum each year, requiring the Archdiocese to provide it with the funds to reach the amount, rural and country parishes are generally the ones in need, due to smaller congregations.
Wongan Hills parish priest Fr Ian Esmond told The Record the system the Archdiocese has in place works well.
“Many in the country would not be able to survive on what they get from the congregation because the congregations are small,” he said.
“Most of the smaller country parishes would be needing to be topped up to that minimum, we wouldn’t be earning enough from our regular collection.”
Fr Ian said the minimum salary of $29,000 is “sufficient to get by”.