Friday, June 22, 2012

Philadelphia Archdiocese to lay off 40, close Catholic Standard & Times

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) — Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia has announced a reorganization of the archdiocesan administration that will result in the loss of 40 jobs and the closing of The Catholic Standard & Times, the 117-year-old archdiocesan newspaper.

Changes include the elimination of some offices and the combination of others, with reduced staffing levels. 

The recent June issue of the Standard & Times, which went from a weekly to monthly publication schedule last year, was the last of the newspaper.

Phaith magazine, which launched last September and published 10 issues through June, will suspend publication while options for resuming it are examined.

The annual Catholic Directory will continue to publish; the 2013 edition is expected to publish by late fall of 2012.

A reduced staff will continue to publish Catholic news, commentary and information on the Catholic Standard & Times' website, A newsletter distributed via email is planned for the near future. 

In a column posted on the website June 21, Archbishop Chaput said the reason for the administrative changes was primarily economic. As administrators this year planned for the 2013 budget, the fiscal year for which begins July 1, they faced a shortfall of $17 million between expected revenue and expenses, he wrote.

The figure does not include more than $11 million in legal fees over 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," he said. "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 budget and staffing adjustments, the archdiocese will still face a budget deficit of more than $5 million for the 2013 fiscal year, the archbishop said.

"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," he said.

He thanked the laid-off employees, calling them "good men and women who have served the church well."

"Every departing employee has the respect and sincere gratitude of the archdiocese and will be treated with maximum consideration, including appropriate severance and counseling," he said.

Archbishop Chaput said he was taking the steps "with great reluctance, as one of several urgently needed steps to restore our church to a healthy footing."

Areas of the administration concerning evangelization and youth ministry were particularly affected by the changes.

The offices for family life, respect life, deaf apostolate and formation of the laity will combine to form the Office of Life, Family and the Laity, with reduced staffing and services.

The Secretariat for Evangelization, which had been an umbrella entity for all offices related to spreading the faith, will remain as an office combined with the Office for Worship, also with reduced staffing and services.

Many of the programs of the Office for Youth and Young Adults will continue within other offices.

The Office of Catholic Education will now manage the programs of Catholic Youth Organization, while the annual Operation Santa Claus, which involves young people in distributing Christmas gifts to the needy, will operate at the local level through the individual Catholic high schools.

The Office of Catechetical Formation will assume operation of programs including Theology on Tap and Catholic Underground, both geared to Catholic young adults. It will also take up Youth and Young Adult Ministries, Community Service Corps and Catholic scouting activities.

Camp Overbrook, the longtime summer camp offered to poor children in the Archdiocese at St. Charles Seminary, will be eliminated.

One area of the administration largely unchanged is that soon to be led on July 2 by Msgr. Daniel J. Kutys, new moderator of the curia. That role is one of coordinating all the administration's offices and entities. He will oversee offices dealing with finances, development and ongoing parish restructuring in the archdiocese, among other offices.

In his column, Archbishop Chaput likened the financial challenges to those a family might face.

"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."

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