2010 Fall General Assembly
Speeches / Addresses
New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, right, addresses members of the media at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 16. The bishops elected him president of the conference. At left is the newly elected vice presid ent, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Bishop Yousif Habash, head of the Newark, N.J.-based Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance for Syrian Catholics, talks with Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of Lexington, Ky., during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 16. ( CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops pray before the start of the second day of their annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 16. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, talks with Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, president, during the U.S. bishops' annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares of Phoenix reacts to a discussion on social media at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Auxiliary Bishop John R. Manz of Chicago, center, attends the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City stands with Charlene Harris of the Diocese of Sacramento, Calif., as he reports on the work of the U.S. bishops' National Advisory Council Nov. 15 at the U.S. bishops' annual fall meeting in Baltimore. Harris chair s the advisory council. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, right, talks with Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Bishop Tod Brown, right, of Orange, Calif., greets Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros of Brooklyn, N.Y., as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops gather for their annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, Calif., works on a laptop during the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 15 in Baltimore. CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops gather for the start of their annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including Bishop Michael R. Cote (center) of Norwich, Conn., applaud after an address by Cardinal Francis E. George, president of the conference, at the bishops' annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15 . (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, addresses the U.S. bishops at the start of their annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 15. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Bishops OK $180 million budget for USCCB but reject assessment increase
BISHOPS-PLANS Nov-16-2010 (690 words)
By Nancy Frazier O'Brien Catholic News Service
BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops approved a $180 million balanced budget for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2011, but they refused to agree to an increase in the assessment on dioceses to fund the conference's work in 2012.
The votes Nov. 16 followed a generally rosy financial picture presented by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., the USCCB treasurer who was to become vice president of the conference at the end of the Nov. 15-18 meeting in Baltimore.
Archbishop Kurtz said the 2011 budget represented a 24 percent increase over the 2010 conference budget, which was $144.6 million. But he said the conference's investments and pension fund had experienced significant gains over the past year.
"In terms of the financial downturn, it seems to be one that we have weathered and we are moving forward very positively," he said.
The vote in favor of the proposed 2011 budget was 225-5, with one abstention.
But when it came time for the bishops to discuss the diocesan assessment for 2012 and how it affects their own budgets, the picture that emerged was not as rosy.
Bishop Robert H. Brom, whose San Diego Diocese filed for bankruptcy early in 2007 because of the many sex abuse claims against clergy pending there, said the diocese still has "$50 million to go" to pay off its debt.
"This has forced cutbacks in staff and the elimination of many programs, which has been seriously detrimental to the mission of the church," he said, adding that he thought the requested increase in assessment was "proceeding as if none of this happened."
Archbishop Kurtz noted that the assessment on dioceses to support the conference's work had been reduced 17 to 18 percent at the time of the USCCB reorganization in 2007 and that reduction "remains in effect." He said the proposed increase was based on that lower rate.
The assessments are calculated for each diocese based on a formula that includes offertory income, registered households and contributions to three national collections.
But when the first vote was taken on a proposed 3 percent increase, it fell far short of the two-thirds majority needed from among the heads of U.S. dioceses and Eastern Catholic eparchies. Eighty-seven bishops supported the increase and 81 opposed it, with one abstention.
Archbishop Kurtz then proposed a 2 percent increase, but it again failed to get the approval of two-thirds, with 100 bishops in favor and 72 opposed.
A third proposal, to keep the diocesan assessment for 2012 at the same level as 2011, received approval from 83 percent of the bishops eligible to vote, with 153 in favor and 19 opposed.
In a vote on modifications to the 2010-2011 office plans, some bishops showed a willingness to get involved in the minutia of conference business. Five USCCB offices -- Migration and Refugee Services, Catholic Education, National Collections, Pro-Life Activities, and Justice, Peace and Human Development -- had requested exceptions to plans submitted earlier, and the Committee on Priorities and Plans had approved them.
After Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Steubenville, Ohio, questioned an MRS expenditure for a book designed as an educational outreach on immigrants and another bishop asked about a proposed MRS conference, the proposed MRS modifications were removed from consideration on the first vote.
The changes for the other four offices were then approved on a 214-15 vote.
Bishop Conlon said he was not questioning the "excellent work" of MRS but wondered if its "resources could be used in a more efficient way." Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, said the book project would cost only $4,000 to $5,000, "much of which will be recouped through grants" and sales.
The modifications of the MRS office plans were approved on a vote of 204-26.
The bishops also agreed, with little discussion, to an extension of the conference planning cycle for one year to provide time for evaluation of the 2007 conference reorganization and a revised policy on the issuance of USCCB statements and publications.
The extension was approved 218-9 and the new guidelines on statements and publications by a vote of 219-3.
11/16/2010 4:19 PM ET
Copyright (c) 2010 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops