After Bulgarian Orthodox Church clergy and lay employees founded a trade union, senior church official Vratsa Metropolitan Kipriyan called their action "absurd" and against canon law.
But clergy in Vratsa said the church failed to pay them on time or contribute to their health and retirement insurance.
Church income derives in part from a nearly $8 million candle-making venture intended to cover clergy pay, but in small dioceses where too few candles were sold, some priests were paid in candles.
"I cannot eat candles," an unnamed priest said in the Dec. 9 edition of Trud, Bulgaria's daily newspaper.
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