The spokesperson of the Romanian Patriarchate, Vasile Bănescu, states that there is no official so-called “tax” required to hold the funeral service.
Vasile Bănescu, spokesman of the Patriarchate
The clarifications made on Wednesday by the official of the Patriarchate come as a result of the appearance in the media of a “pseudo-news” regarding “priests who ask for money at funerals” and whose “false content is torn from the context of an old statement offered on the subject of 'making the funeral service conditional on the payment of an amount'“.
“Very rarely in time have been reported scandalous cases of conditioning the funeral service by a priest who demanded, even from poor people, the payment of a mandatory amount for the religious service occasioned by the sad event. There is no so-called “tax “compulsorily requested official to officiate the funeral service. A hypothetical act of conditioning committed by a priest who would refuse someone's burial in the absence of payment of an imposed amount can be notified to the church authority to which he belongs”said Vasile Bănescu.
According to him, the Holy Synod brought, in 2017, the necessary clarifications regarding the distinction between “taxes” and “voluntary contributions” offered by believers for the functioning of religious units, according to which “tthe axes established by the parish council refer only to the amounts paid by the faithful for the concession and maintenance of burial places in cemeteries”.
“Voluntary contributions represent the sums offered by the faithful on the occasion of the performance of some Holy Mysteries and liturgies. Their amount is established by the parish council and takes into account the operating expenses of the parishes”as specified by the Holy Synod.
The Holy Synod reiterated the prohibition of making the officiating of the funeral service by the priest conditional on the payment of any tax, especially in the case of poor families, but the parishes consider voluntary contributions as a donation from the family necessary for the maintenance of the parish church, in which cases the priest must issue receipts to the families who they donated that money, Bănescu pointed out.
A previous similar decision of the Holy Synod (from 2012) also specified the necessary involvement of priests in a context related to cremation: “The diocesan centers will take measures in relation to the duty of the clergy to promote, including through the force of example, helping bereaved families, so that the lack of money is not a reason to cremate the deceased, considering that the burial would be too expensive”as mentioned by the spokesperson of the Patriarchate.