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June 21, 2012

ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT'S WEEKLY COLUMN:
TAKING THE DIFFICULT STEPS ON THE ROAD TO RENEWING THE CHURCH


Last month, at my request, the Archdiocese published a financial report that was as comprehensive as possible. In the years ahead, that annual report will improve and become even more thorough. After the past decade of anger and confusion in the Church, Philadelphia Catholics want a life of faith where their children are safe and their spirits are nourished. For as long as God gives me time as your bishop, I promise to work to make that happen.

I know that few things in the Church seem less fertile than talk about money. What finally matters to all of us is the welfare - including the spiritual welfare -- of the people we love. Yet as every adult knows, no family can survive for long without using its resources wisely. The zeal to do good things is a natural part of the Christian vocation. But it needs to be anchored in reality and guided by prudence. If we act otherwise, we ignore sound stewardship and create bigger and more painful difficulties for the future, because we can't quick-fix our way out of problems that we behave ourselves into.

Earlier today, June 21, I approved a staff reduction of more than 40 employees connected with the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center. These are good men and women who have served the Church well. I took this action with great reluctance, as one of several urgently needed steps to restore our Church to a healthy footing. Every departing employee has the respect and sincere gratitude of the Archdiocese and will be treated with maximum consideration, including appropriate severance and counseling.

At the start of our budget planning for Fiscal 2013, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia faced an expected shortfall of more than $17 million between our projected expenses and projected income. Please understand that this shortfall does not include the extraordinary legal and other professional expenses of the past year. As burdensome as those extra costs have been, the much more troubling fact is that the Archdiocese has -- for many years -- covered the expense of its many good ministries with growing deficits. These serious deficits have then been made whole with the sale of assets or the drawing down of investments. This is sometimes necessary in an emergency. But it can't be justified or sustained as a normal way of operating.

Despite our best efforts, and even with very significant budget and staffing adjustments, the Archdiocese will still face a budget deficit in Fiscal Year 2013 of more than $5 million. This can't continue, and it won't continue, and I've asked our financial staff and Archdiocesan Finance Council to do everything required by best business standards to balance our local Church's budget by Fiscal Year 2014.

At the same time, we have an on-going duty to serve the pastoral and sacramental needs of our own people and the poor of the wider community; to provide support for victims of sexual abuse; to protect children and families; and to defend the Catholic community in the public square. All of these obligations are important. We will work hard to meet each of them.

As I've said many times, and as I've meant from my heart since arriving in Philadelphia: Thank you for your love of God and generous good will over these past 10 months in the face of so many demanding challenges for our Church. And please, in a special way, keep our departing employees and their families in your prayers.

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Editor's Note: Archbishop Chaput's columns are published regularly on www.CatholicPhilly.com and can also be found at http://archphila.org/archbishop-chaput/statements/statements.htm.


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