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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - In the midst of small business owners losing their businesses, employees being let go and church doors being locked across the United States, the U.S. Catholic bishops are still asking the laity for their money.
After stopping public Masses and keeping countless people away from the sacraments, dioceses across the country are asking stressed Catholics to continue giving electronically to the Church.
They're not asking to keep the lights on and the bills paid, rather they're asking to feed more money into diocesan-wide bureaucracies that fewer Catholics trust.
The archdiocese of Chicago's Chinese virus emergency fund promises to "support parents of Catholic school students who might struggle with tuition payments because of unexpected job loss, ministries providing the needy with sustenance, or parish communities deeply harmed by the pandemic."
Miami Abp. Thomas Wenski, a board member for Catholic Relief Services (CRS), also issued a similar letter. CRS — the charity arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), was outed last week by the Lepanto Institute as supporting condom and contraception distribution in Africa.
Bishop Joseph Strickland of the diocese of Tyler, Texas, called for an investigation into CRS, commenting in a tweet: "This report by the Lepanto Institute must be proven to be false. If what Lepanto says is accurate then we should call for a thorough investigation of CRS." He added, "The confusion must stop. Promoting contraception is immoral and we are reaping sin's devastation."
Many U.S. dioceses have been struggling since the clerical sex abuse scandal resurfaced in 2018 after the outing of serial homosexual predator ex-Cdl. Theodore McCarrick and the Pennsylvania grand jury report.
But now that public Mass has been halted in all U.S. Latin Rite parishes, nobody is going to Mass and putting money in collection baskets.
Last week the diocese of Buffalo began cutting jobs at its headquarters, firing 21 employees and reducing 3 full-time positions to part-time.
Buffalo has been wracked with financial hardships since the mishandling of clerical sex abusers had been outed by secular and non-establishment Catholic media.
On Feb. 28, it became the 24th diocese or religious institution in the U.S. to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy since 2004. But reports reveal the diocese attempted to shift assets before the declaration, believing that it would be facing 250 clerical sex abuse lawsuits.
In the filing, the diocese claimed $10 million to $50 million in estimated assets while its liabilities totaled an estimated $100 million.
But since the state of New York lifted the statute of limitations on sex abuse allegations, the diocese's lawyers believe more than 400 victims will come forward, pushing the sex abuse price tag even higher.
The diocese of Pittsburgh is laying off 34 employees — about 20% of its workforce — in an effort to save nearly $3 million.
Last week, staff for the Pittsburgh Catholic, the diocese's newspaper, were "shocked" when it was announced the enterprise was being shuttered for good. The paper, distributed mainly in parishes and to some home addresses, had a circulation of about 83,000 people.
In July, Bp. David Zubik held a special meeting with priests to discuss the massive financial debt crippling the diocese. He noted that parishioner numbers have been plummeting in the last 20 years while sex abuse payouts have been hundreds of millions of dollars more than anticipated, pushing the diocese into bankruptcy territory.
According to BishopAccountability.org, U.S. dioceses have had to pay out over $3 billion in awards and settlements since 1950, with the vast majority of them — over $2.5 billion dollars-worth — being paid out to abuse survivors since 1984.
Since 2001, 600 priests accused of sex abuse have been laicized either at their own request or by papal decree.