The Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which is still dealing with the fallout of a sex abuse scandal, announced Thursday that it will be cutting 45 jobs due to financial difficulties that have been building up for years.
Archbishop Charles Chaput says the massive legal and professional costs associated with the sex abuse cases had little to do with the decision to cut jobs. Instead, he says, it was based on a long overdue need to restructure, and a desire to cut down the archdiocese's projected deficit of more than $17 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
"These are good men and women who have served the Church well," said Chaput in a statement. "I take this action with great reluctance, as one of several urgently needed steps to restore the local Church to a healthy financial footing. Every departing employee has the sincere gratitude of the Archdiocese and will be treated with maximum consideration."
In addition to cutting dozens of jobs, the archdiocese will merge 19 of its offices and ministries. It has also decided to suspend the publication of Phaith Magazine, and will cease publishing its 117-year-old newspaper, The Catholic Standard & Times, which published its last issue in June.
The archdiocese says its Office of Financial Services has examined a variety of ways to cut costs, through renegotiating contracts with vendors and other initiatives, but the budget gap was too great to close. Although the archdiocese is consolidating its ministries, Chaput says they will continue to work hard to maintain all of its obligations.
"We are committed to doing the work of Jesus Christ and earning the confidence of the faithful and the community we serve," he said. "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."
In early 2011, a grand jury report encouraged the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to further investigate some past allegations of sexual abuse, in addition to cases involving violations of the Archdiocese's Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries. In May of this year, five of the 26 priests who were publicly placed on leave last year were barred from ministry, and three others were cleared of their charges.
Since that time the archdiocese has announced that two other church leaders have been found unsuitable for ministry. Monsignor Hugh P. Campbell is a retired priest who self-reported that he had sexually abused a minor, and Monsignor George J. Mazzotta was found unsuitable after a "substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor," the archdiocese said in May.
On Friday, Monsignor William Lynn, who was the highest-ranking cleric being accused of trying to cover up sexual abuse in the archdiocese, was found guilty of one count of child endangerment and acquitted on two other charges, CNN reports. His co-defendant, the Rev. James Brennan, was charged with raping a teenage altar boy and endangering the welfare of a child, but the jury was unable to bring a verdict against him.