Cardinal Dolan: Archdiocese at 'breaking point;' hints at closing parishes, Staten Island schools
Jan 19, 2013
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, is strongly hinting that parishes will be closed in addition to schools as part of the on-going effort to move the archdiocesan budget out of the red by 2016.
"We have too many parishes!" the cardinal said in a 3,500-word column about the state of the archdiocesan finances in the most recent issue of Catholic New York.
"If a parish cannot sustain itself, one must ask if it is viable any longer," the cardinal said.
The cardinal termed the "Making All Things New" and the "Pathways to Excellence" programs "crucially strategic planning initiatives" and stressed that they are part of why the archdiocese is headed towards a balanced budget when those efforts are completed in the next two to three years.
"Making All Things New" is an archdiocesan wide pastoral planning process that so far has made no recommendations or decisions about which parishes will close. Under the Pathways to Excellence initiative of a regional school system run by local school boards, 28 schools -- including St. Joseph's School in Rosebank and Immaculate Conception School in Stapleton -- are at-risk of closing in June.
For decades, Inter-Parish Financing (IPF) has been used to bail out struggling congregations. Cardinal Dolan said that "while the archdiocese is not rich, it does have a sustained record of supporting our parishes and schools that cannot pay their bills." He said that $46 million a year is now distributed to struggling parishes through IPF and other sources.
While the IPF program will continue, the archdiocese has "reached a breaking point," the cardinal said, explaining that archdiocese central services has an operating budget of just about $87 million, with 53 percent going to parishes and schools primarily in the form of IPF grants and subsidies -- but also in other subsidies to parish high schools-- while $41 million or 47percent goes to archdiocesan offices.
Cardinal Dolan said he offered the details about archdiocese finances in the spirit of transparency, so that members of the church understand the challenges that the church in New York must confront.
"There is a good deal of misunderstanding about Church finances, and I hope that this look at our situation will not only help you to better understand where things stand, but also to see why our strategic planning process is so vital for our continued financial health," he wrote.