Thursday, November 19, 2009

Who's going to pay for the study of U.S. women religious congregations? Not us!

There's a rumor going around and on the internet that the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis is going to foot the bill to the tune of one million for the financing of the three year study that the Vatican has undertaken of American women religious orders.

I was pretty skeptical when I first heard it since the archdiocese is still trying to figure out how to pay for the repairs done to the Cathedral a few years ago. And there have been major layoffs of archdiocesan staff in recent years. And also the archdiocese began a planning process last Spring, the result of which will no doubt indicate that we may have to merge and or close some schools and parishes. We are not in bad shape, financially, but we are certainly in no shape to start financing Vatican projects all by ourselves.

Then, when I checked out the story and discovered that the total cost of the study is only 1.1 million, the absurdity of the rumor grew immensely. If every diocese were to pay on a per capita basis for this study, our share would be about 10,000. Why would we agree to pay all of it?

Here's the article from the National Catholic Reporter, no fan of the study, on the Vatican's request of the US. Church to finance the study. There didn't seem to be any huzzah's coming out of the USCCB when they got that request.

The projected cost of a three-year study of U.S. women religious congregations is $1.1 million and Rome has asked the U.S. bishops to provide funds to offset these expenses, according to a letter by Slovenian Cardinal Franc Rodé, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and obtained by NCR.

“We have a projected budget of $1,100,000 for the three years which the total work of the apostolic visitations will require,” Rodé wrote in a July 14 letter. “I am asking you, my brother bishops, for your help in offsetting the expenses which will be incurred by this work for the future of apostolic religious life in the United States.”

Since the Vatican announced the study last December, it has never publicly stated how much it estimates the comprehensive inquiry will cost or who will pay for it. A Vatican document sent to the heads of U.S. women’s congregations last summer suggested that those chosen for on-site visitations defray costs by paying for and hosting visitation teams, “and, if at all possible, transportation costs related to the visit. . . .”
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