LOS ANGELES — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has been hit so hard by stock market losses and the prospect of settling sexual abuse claims that it plans to cut its budgets for ministry and education by as much as 30 percent and leave some jobs unfilled.
“We’re in 2 1/2 years of not just zero return but minus return,” Cardinal Roger M. Mahony told the Los Angeles Times. “We not only didn’t get a dollar, we lost huge amounts of money. So while we did have a reserve fund to get through one or two rainy years, I’m very alarmed.”
Archdiocesan spokesman Tod Tamberg said the nation’s largest archdiocese still does not have a budget and has not reported unspecified losses from the stock market.
He said he does not know if there will be layoffs, though personnel costs have been contained through attrition.
Meanwhile, the archdiocese is expected to subsidize its new $200-million Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels and conference center for several years to meet operational costs, the Times reported. The cathedral will be dedicated Sept. 2, but the extent and cost of celebrations will be scaled back with only soft drinks, not lunch, served at the ceremony.
“We have so many of our people out of work,” Mahony said. “The cathedral’s got to be a spiritual center primarily. So we have to cut back on expenses on the operations, expenses on the staff, to meet the times.”
Mahony said endowments that support scholarships for Catholic elementary and high school students and for St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, as well as archdiocesan operational costs, have been particularly hard hit by the stock market’s decline.
The archdiocese’s financial records are not open to the public because it is a nonprofit religious institution.
In the past, the archdiocese’s annual operating budget has been about $500 million, according to past statements by church officials. The archdiocese has about 300 employees, according to a Dun & Bradstreet report.
Tamberg could not determine how much money the archdiocese has lost in the stock market.
In comparison, the Diocese of Orange, which has a budget roughly one-tenth the size of Los Angeles’, reported that its investment income for the fiscal year ended July 30, 2001, fell $20 million from the previous year.
So far, the Los Angeles archdiocese’s payments to sexual abuse victims have totaled about $3.5 million, most of it covered by insurance, Tamberg said.
That amount does not include any future settlements or lawsuits, including a class-action lawsuit filed last month on behalf of 50 alleged victims against the archdiocese.