Radioclip en texto sin audio grabado.

Jesus christ can’t pay for his wedding!

How much does it cost to get married by the church?


RACHEL Emisoras Latinas continues its coverage of the second coming of Jesus Christ to earth. Right now we’re leaving a Pentecostal church and going to visit another Christian denomination. As you see, Jesus, there are a lot of churches in the land where you once lived.

JESUS Do they charge tithes in this church too, Rachel?

RACHEL I don’t know. I don’t think so, … but perhaps they charge for other things. Hold on a minute, Jesus. … Look what’s happening there. A wedding! They’re celebrating a wedding.

JESUS Delightful. I always liked weddings. How do they celebrate them now?

RACHEL Want to find out? Let’s go to the church office and tell them that you and I want to get married.

JESUS All right, let’s go.

RACHEL Pay attention, listeners, to this special report, which will be based on top-notch journalistic investigation. Jesus, when the sacristan comes out, you tell him you’re my fiancé. You speak first.

SACRISTAN How can I help you folks?

JESUS Let’s see, my friend. This young woman and I are going to be married, and we want to know what we need to do.

SACRISTAN Do you have all your papers in order original birth certificates, prenuptial medical exams, national identity card, residence certificate?

JESUS Yes, we have them.

SACRISTAN Baptismal and confirmation certificates, prematrimonial course certificate, two witnesses?

RACHEL We have everything ready.

SACRISTAN Very well. Then, how do you want to get married? With mass or without? With hymns or just with musical accompaniment? With complete floral arrangement or just partial? Do you want photographs taken? We have different possibilities, and the pricing varies a great deal. How much are you able to pay?

JESUS Nothing. We don’t have any money. But we do have love. Right, Rachel?

SACRISTAN But what is it you want then?

RACHEL We want to get married. Nothing more. Without flowers, without altar, without music. We want God to bless our love. Just that.

SACRISTAN But … that can’t be.

JESUS Why can’t it be, my friend?

SACRISTAN Please don’t waste my time. Posted outside there are the rates for weddings, baptisms, recited masses, sung masses, masses for the dead, responsorials, first communions, confirmations …

JESUS If we don’t have any money, you won’t marry us?

RACHEL But who do you people think you are? You look decent enough, miss, but your fiancé looks, I don’t know, … he looks like a hippie, or a Rastafarian, … or a Palestinian terrorist! Get out of here, both of you!

RACHEL Well, listeners, that puts an end to our journalistic investigation. Did you see that, Jesus? Those people with their tithes, and these people with their charges for each sacrament.

JESUS But where did they learn those tricks, I wonder. Because I always told my disciples quite clearly give freely what you freely received.

RACHEL But if the priests don’t charge for their services, how will they live?

JESUS Let them work, like any ordinary person.

RACHEL Did you disciples work?

JESUS Of course they did. If they didn’t work, they didn’t eat. Nobody ever charged for announcing God’s Kingdom.

RACHEL Well, if I’m not mistaken, I think it was the same apostle Paul who said, “Those who preach the Gospel should earn their living by the Gospel.”

JESUS Well, if those who explained it to me are right, Paul himself never charged anything, because he worked with his hands; he made tents in order to pay for his travels.

RACHEL So you’re against charging for masses and the sacraments?

JESUS I think that those who do that are not pastors but mercenaries. They are not caring for the sheep, they are being cared for by them.

RACHEL But what if the sheep make voluntary contributions, if they give alms to the church?

JESUS It’s the church that must give alms; it shouldn’t receive them. In our group, anyone who had a little more shared with someone who had less. And there was always enough to go around.

RACHEL And so?

JESUS And so let’s get out of here, Rachel. I don’t think we can get married!

RACHEL A frustrated marriage, but a revealing investigation. From Jerusalem, this is Rachel Perez for Emisoras Latinas.


ANNOUNCER Another God is Possible. Exclusive interviews with Jesus Christ in his second coming to Earth. A production of María and José Ignacio López Vigil, with the support of the Syd Forum and Christian Aid.

*More information about this polemical topic…*

The right to charge
The Catholic Church recognizes seven sacraments or sacred rites by which the faithful officially receive “God’s grace”: baptism, confirmation, penance, eucharist, sacred orders, matrimony, and blessing of the sick. Only men who have received the sacrament of sacred orders (that is, priests) can administer the sacraments. They also can charge for them; at the present time they usually charge for five sacraments, all except penance. In earlier centuries there were charges, and very high ones, even for penance, through the sale of indulgences and in other ways.
In what is called the Code of Canon Law, the official law of the Catholic Church, canon 1264 establishes that the bishops of each place have the right to determine the offerings which are to be made for the administration of the sacraments and sacramentals (sacramentals include the blessings of persons and locales, exorcisms, certain prayers, expositions of relics, etc.).
The Catholic Encyclopedia states: Every priest ordained with a title of ecclesiastical service has the right to require of the bishop, and the bishop has the obligation to give him, a remuneration for ecclesiastical service that guarantees him sufficient means to live a respectable life; in the exercise of this service, the priest has the right to charge the sums assigned to his ministry, including the offerings which legitimate custom allows him to receive, or even demand, on the occasion of certain specific celebrations (mass stipends, priestly rights for burials, etc.).

Paying for receiving: for and against
At the present time the principal reason that is given for charging for the sacraments is that many priests do not have any other economic means to support themselves, since they are serving poor communities. Those who defend charging for the sacraments also claim that, even though these rites bring “spiritual grace” and therefore should be performed gratis, the priests charged with administering them should receive support from the faithful. They cite Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians (9,13-14), arguing that the payment is not for the sacrament as such, but for the support of the person who administers it.
Other argue that the charge is not for the sacrament itself – which has value, but no price – but for the extraordinary costs which the parish incurs in the celebration of some sacraments, especially baptisms and weddings, since a main consideration for families is the social projection they may want to give these celebrations.
Some parishes do not charge fees, but simply ask for a voluntary donation. Others specify that whatever is charged is used exclusively for the maintenance of the temple, not for support of the priest. In still others it is recommended that a receipt be requested for any payment made, with the aim of being accountable and transparent in the use of the money collected. Many dioceses make clear that nobody should ever be deprived of any sacrament for lack of funds to pay the fee.
In some religious cultures eliminating charges for sacraments turns out to be rather difficult. In his book Is Latin America Turning Protestant? (Berkeley, California, 1990; there is also a digital edition), David Stoll relates what happened with Leónidas Proaño, the bishop of Riobamba, Ecuador, and a man who sought out many ways to make the church of his diocese more coherent with Jesus’ message. When he asked his priests to stop charging for the sacraments, he found himself faced with strong resistance from the conservative priests, who were the majority and who depended on these charges as a fixed source of income. Not only that, but also the poor Catholic faithful, mostly Quechua Indians with a very traditional way of thinking, opposed the move: they believed that the sacraments would be of “no use” to them – they would not produce their sacred effect – if they did not pay for them.
In more modern, renewed sectors of the church, the priests themselves have been against charging for the sacraments, and in many places the lay people have taken on the role of parish administrators, in a gesture of collective responsibility. In order follow better the counsel of Jesus, to give freely what they have freely received (Matthew 10,8), there are increasing numbers of priests who, in addition to ministering in a parish, also work as teachers or in various manual labors in order to support themselves economically.