The USCCBureaucracy is being cut down to size. The USCCB is cutting 61 jobs and its budget. That’s good news, if not for the employees themselves then for the Church in the US. The impetus behind the cuts is declining payments from dioceses who are themselves suffering budget shortfalls following the breaking of the Scandal in 2002.
Under the plan, the “diocesan assessment”—essentially a tax that each dioceses pays to subsidize national conference operations—would be reduced 16 percent. Though the assessment accounts for just 9 percent of the conference’s $131 million annual budget, it is the organization’s largest source of unrestricted revenue. Over the last several years, citing fiscal constraints in their home dioceses, the bishops have declined to increase the assessment. As a result, the conference has dipped into endowed reserves to fund operations.
What are those restricted funds? To give one example, the Migrant and Refugee Services program receives $41 million in grants from the government. For another example, Catholic News Service is self-supporting from fees paid by newspapers and magazines that subscribe to its services.
Meanwhile other offices in the general budget are going to be consolidated and closed.
Under the restructuring, for example, separate offices dealing with Hispanic, African-American and other ethnic minorities would be merged into a department focused on “Cultural Diversity in the Church.” A consolidated national collections department would be responsible for the fundraising aspects of special annual appeals (such as those for the Church in Eastern Europe and the Church in Africa), though the programmatic efforts funded by the collections would remain within the policy departments.
The work of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development would shift to the newly constituted “Human Development, Justice and Peace” office, a successor to the Social Development and World Peace department. Through the consolidation, the social justice efforts would see a reduction from 37 authorized positions to 25. Currently, 28 individuals carry out the tasks envisioned for the new office.
Of the remaining offices, nearly all will experience cuts. While certain individuals and certain offices at the USCCB (like the Pro-Life Secretariat) do good work and it hurts to see them cut along with the rest, the other offices are often filled with folks who think that they run the Catholic Church in the US, that the US bishops work for them, and who hold heterodox beliefs about Church teaching.
I think a decrease in bureaucracy at the top is better for the Church overall.