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Euro could rob Irish Catholic collection plates

The Catholic Church in Ireland is worried that its income from parishioners' contributions will slump by up to 20 per cent after the introduction of the euro next January.

Priests in Ireland's 26 Catholic dioceses fear that parishioners who regularly donate 1 coins will in future put one euro into the collection. This means that they will be giving 79p instead of 1. Many of the country's larger charities have expressed similar fears.

Fr Rory O'Sullivan, communications director for the Diocese of Kerry in the south of the country, spoke yesterday of the threat to church finances.

"It is worrying if people who attend church give 1 euro instead of 1. We will be trying to encourage people to go with 2 euros," he said.

The Archbishop of Cashel, the Most Rev Dermot Clifford, has increased the stipend the amount suggested that people should donate to their church. Fr O'Sullivan said that the archbishop's lead would have to be followed by all the parishes.

Fr Tom Hayes, communications director for the Diocese of Cork and Ross, said that the strategy would have to be worked out at parish level. "We intend to work with people at local parish level to help people understand the changes," he added. "We are hoping to provide all the parishes with literature."

The charity Trocaire (the Irish Catholic Agency for World Development) currently receives about 65% of its income from the Irish public. "If people think that 1 euro is equivalent to 1, then we will see the consequences," said a spokeswoman. "Information needs to get out there."

The Times (London)