Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Diocese of Scranton, on a budget

I'm going to bed soon. There's something I want to post about, but I'm too tired to do it justice. Here's the short version:

Yesterday the Diocese of Scranton announced how far behind it is in its annual fund-raiser - formerly Peter's Pence, then the Bishop's Annual Appeal, now "Our Grateful Faith." Non-Catholic drivers along interstate 81 in Northeastern Pennsylvania may be aware of this fund-raiser, since the Diocese bought long-running ads on the video billboards along the highway. I'm not sure at whom these billboards were aimed, since any church-going Catholics were already aware of the appeal through announcements at church, and non-church-going Catholics (or non-Catholics overall) were probably not going to dig very deep for money to hand to the Bishop.

Bishop Martino admitted that the economic downturn, which is hitting Northeastern Pennsylvania particularly hard, is most likely the cause of the reduced donations. And in the next breath, he calls upon individual parishes to lean more heavily on parishioners to get them to cough up more donations.

But the Diocese has already closed most of the local Catholic schools, sold off most of the Catholic hospitals, and is in the process of shutting down a considerable number of Catholic parishes. Surely operating expenses must be down? At a time when most individuals are being forced to do more with less, can't the Diocese even manage to do less with less?

If the Diocese of Scranton needs to learn to live within its income, then perhaps the Bishop needs to seek advice from those who have long known how to do this: the people of the Diocese of Scranton. And I am sure that there are more than a few financially-skilled individuals in the Diocese who would gladly go over the Diocese's books, line by line, to review revenues and outlays and make recommendations for making adjustments to stay within budget. It's the sort of advice that the Diocese in recent years would have gladly shelled out large sums of parishioners' donations to pay for - much like the very expensive studies that determined both school closings and parish consolidations.

Times are tough. Revenues are down for everyone, and everyone must learn to live within a budget. If the Diocese of Scranton, with its expenses greatly reduced through closures and consolidations, cannot figure out how to do this, then it must seek the advice of those who already know how.


joy said...

Just how much do you think they're spending on these billboard ads? That seems like the FIRST item that could be cut from the budget! (P.S. I HOPE you're still planning to see some friends on Saturday) :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm way behind on reading this but...The Diocesan Annual Appeal has nothing to do with "Peter's Pence" which is the annual collection for the Pope. And, in general, 'diocesan expenses" and so the budget have little to do with individual parishes and nothing to do with hospitals which are all independently run.
Finally, the people who staff the Finance Office ARE those people you suggest, experts in finances.