Philadelphia Archdiocese announces widespread cuts

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said he "took this action with great reluctance, as one of several urgently needed steps to restore our church to a healthy footing." ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer, file
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said he "took this action with great reluctance, as one of several urgently needed steps to restore our church to a healthy footing." ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer, file
Posted: June 23, 2012

Facing a $17 million deficit in its operating budget, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Thursday closed its youth office, shut down its Hispanic evangelization center, ended publication of its monthly newspaper, and laid off 45 employees - 18 percent of the headquarters staff - as part of a massive restructuring.

The cuts, announced by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, come atop his shuttering of 27 schools and nine parishes since arriving in the five-county archdiocese in the fall.

Writing in his weekly column on the archdiocesan website about the latest reductions, he said he "took this action with great reluctance, as one of several urgently needed steps to restore our church to a healthy footing."

Earlier this month, Chaput disclosed that the cost of responding to the 2011 Philadelphia grand jury report on clergy sex abuse had exceeded $11.6 million.

In his Thursday column, however, he said the deficit projected for the fiscal year that begins July 1 was unrelated to the cost of investigating sex-abuse allegations or the defense of Msgr. William J. Lynn, who awaits the outcome of a lengthy trial on child-endangerment charges.

The shortfall, Chaput said, does "not include the extraordinary legal and other professional expenses of the past year."

The archdiocese has been operating at a deficit for about a decade, according to a report the archbishop released this month. The expense of "its many good ministries" has been covered by selling assets or drawing down investments. That, he said, "can't be justified or sustained as a normal way of operating."

Even with the cuts, the archdiocese will run at a $5 million deficit in the new fiscal year, Chaput wrote. He said he anticipated no deficit for 2013-14.

On Thursday, the presses were stopped on the 117-year-old Catholic Standard and Times. Also, publication of the archdiocese's new and much-heralded monthly magazine, Phaith, was suspended. Launched in September, it had published 10 issues and had a circulation of 300,000.

The Institute for Evangelization in North Philadelphia, which Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua founded in 1993 as an outreach to Hispanic Catholics, was also closed.

The Office for Youth and Young Adults was dissolved. It administered CYO sports and dozens of other youth programs.

CYO and most other youth programs will continue "virtually unchanged" through the archdiocesan Office of Education, according to spokeswoman Donna Farrell.

However, Camp Overbrook - a summer program for children ages 6 to 12 at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood - will not open this season.

Until Thursday, the youth office oversaw the archdiocese's Athletic Ministry (which included CYO), Catholic Scouting, the Community Service Corps, Hispanic ministry, and Young Adult ministry.

Many of those functions will be handled by the education office or the Office for Catechetical Formation, though their staffs will not grow, Farrell said.

Additionally, the Family Life Office, the Respect Life Office, the Formation of the Laity Office, and the Deaf Apostolate will merge into the newly created Office of Life, Family, and Laity.

The evangelization center's programs will merge into the Office for Hispanic Catholics.

The Office for Vocations to the Priesthood, the Secretariat for Evangelization, and the Permanent Diaconate Office will remain but with reduced staffing.

The archdiocese was not immediately able to say how many people were laid off in each office effective Thursday.

Those who lost their jobs will receive full pay for the next 60 days, as well as a severance equivalent to a week's pay for each year of employment, spokesman Kenneth Gavin said.

A midday call to the Office for Youth and Young Adults indicated the swiftness of the layoffs. "They're gone. They're all gone," said a woman who answered the phone.

Carol Beausoleil, coordinator for athletic ministry and CYO, sent out an e-mail about two hours before the archdiocese's news release. It was "with great disappointment and a heavy heart," she wrote, "that I am sharing with you that the Office for Youth and Young Adults has just been eliminated."

"Effective today," she wrote, "I will no longer have the position of coordinator for Athletic Ministry/CYO Sports Department nor will there be an Athletic Ministry/CYO Sports Department.

Farrell said Beausoleil's statement that there would no longer be an athletic ministry or CYO sports program in the archdiocese - which was circulating rapidly on social media Thursday afternoon - was in error.

Calls to Beausoleil's home were not returned.

Gavin said the restructuring should eliminate the need for any other such cuts over the next several years.


Contact David O'Reilly at 610-313-8111 or doreilly@phillynews.com.

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