The Lord is always present to help us

The following column appeared in the November 20, 2014 issue of The Catholic Spirit.

“Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day” (Matthew 6:34).

These words of Jesus come to mind as I sit down to pen this column. Our local Church and our Chancery Corporation, in particular, have known significant “trouble” during the past year. That “trouble” continues today with the disheartening financial information published in this issue of The Catholic Spirit.

Unfortunately, we have taken a series of financial hits that have resulted in a serious deficit to our bottom line. Additionally, in better financial times, our staffing and other expenses grew substantially in support of our Church’s mission. As a result, we needed to cut back on expenses. Most distressing is the evident need for reducing the size of our workforce and the loss of valued staff members. My entire staff works with great dedication and for modest salaries in order to serve Christ and His Church. Following years of hard work to promote the mission of this Archdiocese, these layoffs sadden me greatly. I ask our readers to keep these good people in their prayers.

I have spent countless hours and several sleepless nights trying to analyze the current situation and find the best resolution available to us. I am grateful to the dedicated advisors I have on our staff as well as the professional and highly competent members of the Archdiocesan Finance Council who have worked closely with me. I truly regret and I apologize for the pain that this has caused others. I wish there had been a less hurtful way to resolve the situation.

As you know, the work of the Church is primarily carried out in the parishes, parish schools and other Catholic institutions by priests, religious and other ministers. All of these organizations are separate legal entities with their own budgets. Please be assured that the Archdiocesan Chancery Corporation’s financial condition does not directly affect the parishes or other Catholic institutions. Thus, it should in no way diminish the many good works which I mention in my regular column today.

I am determined to see that the ministries and essential services provided by the Chancery Corporation will continue and that we will strive to minimize the impact of cutbacks on our Catholic people and the larger community.

I must also admit that the road ahead offers “trouble” of its own. We have settled only two of the legal cases involving clerical sexual abuse of minors. There are 20 more trials that are scheduled. There is still another year and a half for the window created in May 2013, lifting the Statutes of Limitations.  We have no idea how many more legal claims may be made against us in the time that is left.

We have adopted a policy of “victims/survivors first,” which means we make decisions with fairness to them in mind. We do not want to have all our resources spent on litigation, which could easily happen. We need to make sure that all victims/survivors are adequately compensated.

I ask our readership to pray for me and my team at the Chancery Corporation, that we may have the wisdom and strength in the months ahead to resolve the serious “trouble” that faces us so that we might be a source of hope before all that confront us.

We read in the Second Chapter of Sirach:

“My son, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials. Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in time of adversity. Cling to him, forsake him not; thus will your future be great. Accept whatever befalls you, in crushing misfortune be patient.  For in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation. Trust God and he will help you, make straight your ways and hope in him.”

Indeed, there is much comfort in such advice. Let us take these words to heart, knowing that the Lord will always be present to help us.

God bless you!