Q. 1. Does the Catholic Church have any rule regarding how much time off a priest can have for holidays? It seems our parish priest is always gone for something, be it holidays, retreats, golf, fishing trips, pilgrimages, etc... It is like having a priest for only half a year.
A. 1. The Catholic Church has a Canon Law regarding how much time a priest can take for holidays. It says:
Can. 533 §2. "Unless there is a grave reason to the contrary, a pastor is permitted to be absent from the parish each year for vacation for at most one continuous or interrupted month; those days which the pastor spends once a year in spiritual retreat are not computed in the time of vacation. In order to be absent from the parish for more than a week, however, a pastor is bound to inform the local ordinary."
As stated above, the priest is required to notify the Bishop of his absence ahead of time so the Bishop can appoint a temporary priest for the care of the parish.
Over and above an entitlement of one month of holidays per year, the priest is obligated to participate in spiritual retreats in order to feed his spiritual life on a regular basis.
Canon Law # 276 §2. 4/ "They are equally bound to make time for spiritual retreats according to the prescripts of particular law."
As a general rule, a priest takes one month a year, during which time he is replaced by another priest. Therefore, this does not leave the parish without pastoral care. As for retreats, these are usually of a few days on a quarterly basis.
Equal to all laypersons, a priest is entitled to at least a day off during the week to rest. When a parish has more than one priest, sometime the priests are allowed two days off per week. Those days may be used for golfing, fishing, going on a pilgrimage in a nearby municipality, and the list goes on. The fact remains that what the priest does on his time off, it concerns him alone. He is entitled to his own privacy. Such must be respected!
Under the section "The Obligations and Rights of Clerics" of the Code of Canon Law, it further states, "They [clerics] are entitled, however, to a fitting and sufficient time of vacation each year as determined by universal or particular law." [Canon # 283 §2.]
The "universal law" means the Code of Canon Law as directed by the Vatican. The "particular law" means the local law as authorized by the Bishop.
If a priest appears to be taking a lot of time off, far more reasonable than what has been mentioned above, then the matter should be brought to the attention of the Bishop who has the authority to find out what is taking place.