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Archdiocese raises retirement age for Boston priests

By Antonio M. Enrique
Posted: 7/24/2009

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BRAINTREE -- Under a new policy that will go into effect Aug. 1, archdiocesan priests will be expected to remain in active ministry until age 75, five years beyond the current retirement age of 70.

In an email sent to all priests of the archdiocese, Father Richard Erikson, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, explained that the amended policy states that “priests are normally expected (health permitting) to remain in active ministry, as pastor, parochial vicar, or special assignment, until the age of 75.”

Father Erikson said that this change is in keeping with the Code of Canon Law, “wherein both pastors and bishops are asked to submit their resignation at age 75.”

The new policy will still allow priests to request senior priest status at age 70 but they will be required to “provide temporary emergency response” -- filling in at parishes where the priest may be absent because of illness, vacation or other short-term need -- until they reach the age of 75.

Cardinal O’Malley promulgated the amendment to the Archdiocesan Policy for the Life, Ministry and Support of Senior Priests after consulting with the Presbyteral Council.

Father Thomas S. Foley Episcopal Vicar for Parish Life and Leadership told The Pilot that the new amendment simply goes back to the long standing policy in the Church that priests are to retire at 75.

“We had allowed 70 as optional retirement for a number of years but that is not the longer tradition.”

The amendment replaces the current policy that was in place since 1987, he said.

Father Foley said that the amendment clearly states that the new policy applies to priests whose health allows them to continue serving.

“If there is a health condition they can request retirement, but if their health allows, we are asking them to stay until age 75,” he said

“Priests do not really retire from priesthood. They become senior priests. We do use the word retirement because that is common language but priests are still priests and if they are able, they wish to stay in ministry and we certainly want to encourage that.”