Thursday, September 3, 2009

Breaking News: Archdiocese of Detroit to cut 29 percent of jobs

I blogged about this yesterday, and today it was rolled out.

Niraj Warikoo at the Detroit Free Press has more details in this post than in the one I emailed out to some sources earlier. This is the September 3, 2009, 5:19pm version: Archdiocese losing $42K a day, set to make big cuts

Niraj writes (my emphases in bold):

The Archdiocese of Detroit announced major cuts today, slashing its central staff by 29% because of a $14.5-million operating deficit, a spokesman said.

It will reduce its central staff from 264 to 187, one of the biggest reductions in years, said Joe Kohn, an official with the archdiocese. And it plans to sell the Gabriel Richard building on Michigan Avenue in downtown Detroit, one of its main offices.

The archdiocese oversees 1.4 million Catholics in metro Detroit, the largest religious denomination in the region. But the slumping economy has taken its toll on the church's financial and property investments. And tithing is down between 5% and 10%, compared to previous years.

In a meeting today at St. Aloysius Catholic Church in downtown Detroit, Archbishop Allen Vigneron announced the changes.

The cuts will affect every department in the archdiocese and are “pretty far reaching in its scope,” Kohn said.

The archdiocese currently has an operating deficit of $1.2 million per month, losing $42,000 a day, Kohn said.

“We couldn’t go on existing as we currently do with those financial realities,” he said.

In the meeting, Vigneron spoke about the importance of the church’s mission.

“The mission of the church is to share Christ,” Kohn said, talking about Vigneron’s overall message. “Our financial realities dictated that we have to change the way we do things in order to continue to fulfill the church’s mission.”

The layoffs will take place through mid-November. The church plans to have a new organizations plan in effect by the start of next year.

The cuts will lead to some consolidation in the archdiocese, Kohn said.

There is some overlapping that currently goes on, he said.

The archdiocese also plans to stop subsidizing programming at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, a conference center. It also will stop its subsidy to the Michigan Catholic, the weekly newspaper for the archdiocese.

I don't know when it was last done, but certainly it has been a very long time since such an exhaustive look at the archdiocesan administration has been done. Of course, this economy is making everyone take a closer look. In good times, these things remain hidden. In bad times, it becomes necessary to trim away the fat. In really bad times, it becomes necessary to trim some of the muscle.

Please pray for all of those affected, as well as all of those in the decision making process. There are probably many joys that come with being an archbishop, and this is definitely not one of them.

Stay tuned. I'll be following. Got a good tip, feel free to drop me a note at

UPDATE #1: Local ABC affiliate, WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 in Detroit will feature Archbishop Vigneron in an interview with Chuck Stokes at 11:30am Sunday.

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!