Archdiocese Will Cut 34 Jobs, Budget
Church Anticipates Financial Impact of Suits Alleging Abuse

By Peter Smith
The Courier-Journal [Louisville KY]
Downloaded May 13, 2003

Citing the expected financial impact of settling nearly 250 lawsuits alleging abuse by priests, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville announced yesterday that it is cutting 12 percent of its work force and slashing its budget by about $2million. Thirty-four jobs in the church's headquarters, Catholic Charities and 18 other agencies will be cut through layoffs, early retirement and attrition, reducing its work force to about 236, according to Brian Reynolds, the archdiocese's chancellor and chief administrative officer.

The archdiocese also is freezing salaries, reducing local church television programming and eliminating two supplements in its weekly newspaper, The Record.

"This is a difficult time for those of us who work for the church," Reynolds said. "The impact of the sexual abuse crisis is widespread, not just in the lives of victims of abuse but also of those who have dedicated their lives to serving the church who have done nothing wrong and are now being impacted by this litigation."

By the end of this fiscal year on June 30, the archdiocese expects to have spent more than $1million on legal, settlement and counseling costs for the clergy sexual abuse crisis, Reynolds said.

Of 249 lawsuits filed against the archdiocese since April 2002, six have been settled, and the archdiocese is negotiating now with the bulk of the remaining plaintiffs. Other settlements and counseling arrangements have been reached outside of lawsuits.

"We anticipate next year being obviously more than" this year's figure of $1million, Reynolds said.

The cuts formally take effect with the start of the new church fiscal year on July 1, although those leaving their jobs will work until mid-June, Reynolds said.

About $1.6million of the cuts directly affect the 20 archdiocesan agencies, while about $400,000 more will come from other programs funded by the church, including grants to community projects.

Parishes and schools have their own budgets and will not be directly affected, though the archdiocese will have fewer staff to advise parishes in areas ranging from finances to religious education, Reynolds said.

He emphasized that wholesale cuts in programs are not planned. "No buildings or services are being closed," he said. "We're doing this by people picking up additional responsibilities and reducing the amount of staff."

The church will continue to provide services as well as possible, he said.

The archdiocese serves "tens of thousands of people every day - those who are Catholic and those who aren't a part of our church," he said. "We believe we're able to maintain our essential services."

The archdiocese represents 200,000 Catholics in 24 counties stretching from Louisville to the Tennessee border.

Attorney William McMurry, who represents 214 of the plaintiffs who have filed suit against the church, said: "The church is duty-bound to compassionately compensate its victims. If that requires making financial alterations to its budget, then so be it. It is in the best interest of the archdiocese to compensate these victims and resolve these cases, so that it can resume its work in this community."

Reynolds said that in addition to the lawsuits, other factors motivating the budget cuts include lower investment returns and the general economic slowdown. The Catholic Services Appeal for 2002, an annual fund-raiser for archdiocesan services, reached 92 percent of its $3million goal.

Reynolds said parishes have seen mixed financial results this year, with incomes up at some and down at others. Parishes pay part of the archdiocesan budget.

"Around the country, most churches and charities are reporting that free-will donations have been in decline this year, whether related to specific church issues or related to the economy," he said. "I would be willing to speculate both of these factors have impacted us locally."

Most archdiocesan priests signed an agreement earlier this year to accept freezes in their own salaries as a sign of solidarity with church workers, in anticipation of the cuts.

The 34 positions being cut are roughly evenly split among layoffs, early retirements and attrition.

Also being cut are "nonessential expenses" such as dues, travel and continuing education, Reynolds said, adding that a hiring freeze, imposed Jan. 1, will continue.

Reynolds said the cuts include four workers in administration and immigration services for Catholic Charities, which provides a wide range of social services.

In some departments at the archdiocesan headquarters, or chancery, offices will be sharing the services of secretaries and computer technology workers.

About five full-time workers will also begin working part time.

Archdiocesan media efforts also will be cut.

While the archdiocese will continue to work with Faith Channel 19, a local interfaith religious cable TV channel, it will reduce the amount of locally produced Catholic programming, such as documentaries and broadcasts of local speakers. More satellite broadcasts of Catholic programming will be used instead, according to Cecelia Price, chief communications officer for the archdiocese.

"The television staff has been working for years to work up a credible and exciting television ministry, and we're all sad to see a diminution of that," she said.

Also, the weekly archdiocesan newspaper, The Record, will no longer carry supplements on such topics as youth and spirituality.

The cancellation of the youth-oriented Off the Record supplement, announced in a recent edition of the newspaper, already has drawn letters to The Record from readers, decrying it as a setback to the church's efforts to reach youth.

The archdiocese is "going to look for other ways to reach out to young people," Reynolds said. "But this is a loss. No question about it."

Matthew Hayes, executive director of the Office of Lifelong Formation and Education, said that deciding on cuts has been "difficult and painful." The office provides resources to Catholic schools and parish lifetime-learning programs.

For one example, the two staff members in an educational media lending library are taking early retirement, so staff members in another office will take on their work, in addition to their own.

"Our intent continues to be to provide services and resources to the learning community," he said. "We'll just have to do that with less staff and resources."

The budget requires final approval by the archdiocesan Finance Council and Archbishop Thomas Kelly, but Reynolds said they were involved with the planning process and are expected to approve the budget without substantial changes.

The 20 archdiocesan agencies include: the chancery (archbishop's office), the Archdiocesan Communications Center, Catholic Cemeteries, Catholic Charities, Catholic Deaf Office, Clergy Personnel Office, Continuing Formation for Clergy, Diaconate Office, Office of Ecumenism and Interreligious Relations, Catholic Family Center, Finance Office, Office of Lifelong Formation and Education, the Metropolitan Tribunal, Office of Ministry and Spirituality, Office of Multicultural Ministry, Office of Pastoral Care, Office of Personnel and Planning, Office of Stewardship and Development, Vocation Office and the Office of Worship.


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