Philadelphia archdiocese cuts jobs, closes newspaper

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Facing a $17 million projected deficit, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is cutting over 40 jobs, closing and restructuring programs, and shuttering its 117-year-old newspaper The Catholic Standard and Times.

“I took this action with great reluctance, as one of several urgently needed steps to restore our Church to a healthy footing,” Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia said June 21.

He added that every departing employee has “the respect and sincere gratitude of the archdiocese,” and urged people to pray for the employees who are losing their jobs.

Staff reductions will affect 45 positions, while 19 offices or ministries will consolidate.

Archbishop Chaput said that the archdiocese has paid for its ministries with growing deficits for many years .

“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,” he said in his weekly column at CatholicPhilly.com.

The archbishop said that even with the adjustments the archdiocese’s budget in fiscal year 2013 will face a deficit over $5 million. He has asked the archdiocese’s financial staff and the Archdiocesan Finance Council to “do everything required by best business standards” to balance the budget by 2014.

With the closing of the one-time weekly The Catholic Standard and Times, which became a monthly last year, CatholicPhilly.com will continue to serve as the archdiocese’s official news outlet. A reduced staff will publish Catholic news, commentary and information.

Programs that will be completely eliminated include Camp Overbrook, a summer camp for poor children, and the Saint Peter Claver Center for Evangelization, which served black Catholics. The Catholic Institute for Evangelization site will close and the institute will continue its work in another form.

The archdiocese’s youth office will merge with the Catholic education office and the catechetical formation office, while Hispanic ministry programs will merge into the Office for Hispanic Catholics.

The archdiocese’s Office of Financial Services will be implementing cost-cutting initiatives, but these will not meet the budget shortfall.

The shortfall does not include over $11 million in legal fees in the past year as the archdiocese continues to respond to sex abuse lawsuits.

Financial problems have forced the archdiocese to close 27 schools and nine parishes since Archbishop Chaput became head of it last year.

Archbishop Chaput noted the archdiocese’s ongoing duty to serve the religious needs of Catholics, to serve the poor, to support sexual abuse victims 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,” he said. He promised to work to help Philadelphia Catholics live a life of faith where “their children are safe and their spirits are nourished.”

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