The compensation package for the Bishop in Charge includes salary, housing, utilities, health insurance, retirement contributions (French retirement and the Church Pension Fund) and clergy equity allowance, all paid by the Domestic Foreign and Missionary Society. While the salary is not high, the next bishop will enjoy full coverage by one of the best health systems in the world, with no deductibles and small co-pays. Supplemental coverage tops it up.
The salary and benefits are in euros. Because the national church pays in dollars there will be adjustments for fluctuations in exchange rates. Rent and other expenses will also be adjusted as prices increase. The housing allowance is enough to afford a comfortable, modest-size apartment in a good Paris neighborhood or a larger residence just outside the city.
Living in Paris has much in common with living in any urban environment. With a population of over 10 million in the greater Paris area there is the stimulation and excitement of a rich cultural life, lots of choices of shops and restaurants, a sense of being in the middle of the world, and there are also crowds, traffic, noise and the various irritants of a big city.
But living in Paris has additional challenges that must be kept in mind. One major issue may be the interruption of a spouse’s career path. While it is technically not impossible to find employment here, any non-EU citizen must find an employer ready to sponsor their work permit, including proving that no French person could adequately perform the particular job. Few firms are prepared to do that but, on the other hand, spouses who have personal projects to pursue or who are ready to donate their skills to one of scores of interesting associations and projects may find Paris a perfect situation. The disruption of children’s education and friendships must also be squarely addressed. There are many options for education, ranging from the excellent French public schools to schools following American curriculum entirely. An excellent resource for information on schools can be found at https:// www.aaweparis.org/books/guide-to-education. The distance from family across the ocean, whether offspring or parents, can be a more difficult adjustment than many imagine. The climate, too, can be a rude shock – sunset at 4:30 pm in December is tough, but sunset at 10 pm in June is glorious.
Since the bishop’s housing is not at the cathedral, but rather in a typical Parisian neighborhood, the family will be mingling with French neighbors and shopkeepers and will be exposed to French life in all its guises. Ease, or some grounding, in the French language will make the new life all the more rewarding and fun. To truly thrive the bishop and his or her family must be totally committed to the adventure and challenge of living in France. It will not be like home, wherever that may be.