The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS - The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis is cutting 26 jobs and might consolidate churches and schools to reduce a $1.8 million deficit.
"We're suffering like everyone else is from the economy," archdiocese spokesman Greg Otolski said Tuesday. "Cutting jobs was a last resort."
Archbishop Daniel Buechlein also is considering the sale of the bishop's residence on the city's west side, Otolski said.
The archdiocese, which encompasses 139 parishes in central and southern Indiana, has suffered financial troubles because of losses in the stock market and increases in health care costs and property insurance premiums.
"Because of these new realities, we can no longer continue to operate as we have," Buechlein said in a written statement.
Otolski said the cuts were not a result of payouts or falling donations from the national priest sex-abuse scandal, and that the archdiocese surpassed its goal with its main fund-raising drive last year.
The layoffs are at the central administrative level of the archdiocese. No cuts are being made at schools or parishes, Otolski said.
The archdiocese employs about 4,000 people, including teachers and staff in the Catholic schools and parishes. It had operating revenue of $46 million for the 2001-'02 fiscal year, Otolski said.
Officials will spend the next 18 months evaluating all aspects of the archdiocese's operations, including its nine high schools and 64 elementary schools.
"We'll be looking at how they are being utilized and if any consolidations are possible," Otolski said. "We're not saying it will happen, but the archbishop is saying everything is on the table right now."
Otolski said officials still were meeting with laid-off employees. The workers will receive job-placement counseling and severance pay, and their health insurance will remain in effect until the severance period - a maximum of 26 weeks - expires.
Elsewhere around the country, the archdioceses of Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and Milwaukee have announced budget cuts. Among the reasons given: the downturn on Wall Street, higher operating costs, a drop-off in contributions because of the priest sex scandal, and the prospect of multimillion-dollar settlements with victims.
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