Difference between revisions of "Church Overview"

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Revision as of 16:18, 16 February 2010

The Church derives a substantial income from tithes in addition to its temporal holdings. Most tithes go to support the local clergy in the area the tithes are coming from, but some of those monies are given to the local and planetary cathedrals. In general, the Church receives in tithes exactly what a landholder might receive if they controlled a similar amount of land as the diocese in question. So, the Bishop of the Southern Reaches sees an income of some 10500 firebirds annually in addition to benefices and other income.

The Church also gains income from benefices - temporal holdings administered like any fief. These follow exactly the same rules for general fiefs, as discussed under Estates.

Church Expenditures and Buildings

One of the principle expenditures for dioceses are ecclesiastic structures and communities. A small diocesan cathedral costs approximately 1000 firebirds a year to maintain. A larger regional cathedral costs approximately 3000 firebirds a year to maintain. A full planetary cathedral - and Vargo does not presently possess one, as the Cathedral of Ste. Vargo in Vargo City is ancient and more of a regional size - costs approximately 10,000 firebirds a year. The full list follows:

Chapel                         100 fb
Priory Cell                    200 fb
Parish Church                  300 fb
Priory                         600 fb
Small Cathedral or Monastery   1000 fb
Large Monastery                2000 fb
Regional Cathedral             3000 fb
Planetary Cathedral            10000 fb

Village Clinic (pop. 10,000)   300 fb
Local Hospice (pop. 50,000)    600 fb
Hospital (pop. 100,000)        1000 fb

Unlike other facilities, however, which are built largely at the cost of maintenance, many churches are ostentatiously decorated when they are built, usually through the donations of wealthy guilders and nobility. To be considered well-appointed, a church must typically have a value equal to roughly the annual maintenance invested in precious decorations; to be considered first rank, a church must typically have twice the annual maintenance invested. Those decorations are a one-time expense, but a heavy one, and outfitting a cathedral in full pomp and splendor is often the principle focus of a regional economy.

Tithe Levies

The Church can call for one-time or recurring tithe levies on dioceses; these operate exactly as feudal levies and decrease the income of the lords who rule lands within the diocese while increasing the income of the diocese or Church as a whole. Every 1% the lords' income is decreased raises the Church's income by 0.3% of the total population of the land coming under tithe levy. For the first 5% of tithe levy imposed in liberal or republican lands, the first 10% in moderate or authoritarian lands and the first 15% in religious, zealot or oppressive lands the no popularity or loyalty penalties are taken by either clergy or lord.

This can be used in an underhanded fashion by lords and priests to cut deals to raise taxes on lords' lands under ostensibly religious pretexts, avoiding the ire of the lords' vassals and population because of the veneer of respectability the Church provides even while kicking back to the lord under the table. As a tithe levy practically requires the cooperation of the ruling lord in all cases, kickbacks of a greater or lesser extent are common during many tithe levies. See also Feudal Levies.

Benefices

Many clergymen possess benefices - in essence, temporal fiefs run as feudal provinces in the same manner as lords. These are usually relatively small, each governed by a local priest or monastery, and thus Largesse costs do not need to be paid for them. Works & Welfare, however, does just as it does for a secular fief. A monastic community of some sort or an associated church needs to be paid for out of the benefice's funds.

Alms and Opulence

One of the principal services a diocese provides is the distribution of Alms - monies set aside for the people of an area. The distribution of alms increases the piety felt towards a diocese or sect.

For a diocese, alms are represented as a pure percentage of the diocesan tithe income. If an outside party wishes to give alms, the effect of those alms can be calculated for a given area using the same formula.

Similarly, a percentage of the diocese's income is spent on Opulence, monies spent on saints' feasts, offerings, the maintenance of shrines and Church facilities and the like - and this, too, increases Piety. For more information, see Piety.

It should be noted that it is more advantageous for Piety to spend on Opulence than Alms, and indeed many bishops put more money into their churches and shrines than into charity for their people - but overstinting charity can have its own negative effects, attracting the ire of populists or alienating the people.

Living Expenses

Clergy - particularly high clergy - pay living expenses just as do the nobility, and in similar amounts. Most bishops live like barons or viscounts, and pay living expenses accordingly.

Some clergy chose to live in monastic cells instead of in palaces; while this is frowned upon by the Church (and indeed most monastic orders specifically call for their superior to live apart from the bretheren) it is still done. Even if such cases, however, the ascetic bishop or abbot is still likely to maintain a palace appropriate to his or her station, as it is expected that mitred clergy be able to entertain visitors in an appropriate and noble style. Failure to do so tends to make one a political pariah.

Remember that Fading Suns is a feudal society - the Church is the Pancreator's House, and its bishops and prelates his princes. For them to live in squalor is for them to dishonor the stature and majesty of the Church, whose temporal glory is considered to be directly reflective of the Pancreator's spiritual glory. Clergy who spurn the trappings of their status as lords spiritual may be given some measure of respect as hermits or holy men, but they are likely to lose their right to sit as peers among the high nobles and guilders.

Those high clergy who do spurn life outside the monastery still cannot avoid an expense of 100-200 fb/yr for incidentals. For more information, see Living Expenses.