The Cincinnati Enquirer reports:
Money is so tight at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati that the central office is now taking a bigger share of donations from its parishes' Sunday collection plates.
Church officials also are considering cutting staff - through attrition and, possibly, layoffs - and are pushing parishes to repay tens of millions of dollars in outstanding loans from the archdiocese.
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk said he knows the measures are painful, especially for struggling parishes with their own money problems.
He said he has no choice: Without more revenue, the 19-county archdiocese could be out of money within three years.
"If we do nothing, we're in trouble," Pilarczyk said. "The financial policies of the archdiocese will have to be a lot tighter than they have been. The time comes when you run out of money."
The archdiocese's financial woes have been building for years because of an economic slowdown, rising insurance premiums, declining donations and the costs associated with the clergy-abuse scandal.
The result is six consecutive years of budget deficits that drained the archdiocese of almost 60 percent of its assets and reserves, which have fallen from $88 million to $36 million since 2000.
Unless something is done to stop the bleeding, a range of jobs and services could be at risk.
The archdiocese has about 140 full-time employees, 192 active priests and another 86 retired priests, according to the archdiocese's Web site.
Services include youth ministries, educational programs, food pantries, charities for the poor and sick, marriage counseling, aid to inner-city Catholic schools and dozens of other programs.
Some vacant archdiocese jobs have been left open for months, and the archbishop said staff layoffs are "not off the table."
Pilarczyk said he does not expect the archdiocese's problems to close parishes or schools, because they are responsible for their budgets and fundraising.
The archdiocese essentially acts as a home office for its 222 parishes and cannot simply raid their bank accounts.
But many parishes are hurting, too. If the archdiocese pushes for debt collection and takes a bigger share of weekly donations, financially-strapped parishes will be squeezed even more.
The hardest hit could be urban parishes with shrinking populations, rising costs and schools to support.
"It really adds to the financial pressure," said the Rev. David Lemkuhl, pastor at St. Margaret of Cortona in Madisonville, which also has a school. "If they push us too much, it's going to collapse."
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