Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Archdiocese of Boston May Cut Priests' Pensions

NYtimes

Seeking to save money, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston is proposing cuts in its pension benefits for priests.

The archdiocese says that its pension fund has had poor returns in recent years and has suffered from many of the same problems as corporate America's pension funds. Previously, however, officials have cited general financial strains stemming from the sexual abuse scandal and a resulting decline in contributions from churchgoers.

The archdiocese has begun holding meetings to inform priests of the proposed cuts. They include freezing monthly pension benefits at the current level, $1,889, rather than raising them with inflation, and asking some priests in some case to pick up more of their housing costs.

Medical benefits would also be reduced and linked to financial need for the first time. Able-bodied retired priests would be steered away from assisted-living quarters, which are expensive, and encouraged to stay in their parish rectories after retiring. Those who collect Social Security or have other assets, say, from a family inheritance, would have to dip into those funds to pay for assisted living and nursing home care that the archdiocese now provides.

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I feel bad for the priests, especially since they had reasonable expectations for this pension. I think priests generally get a sweet deal, especially on the housing front, so I'm not crying buckets for them or anything. But still, a promise is a promise. You can't treat people like this and expect morale to be high or even then try to recruit more people.

I hope they don't freeze the benefits. What they need is to set up an endowment and use the proceeds to support the priests' pensions. I'm sure people would be willing to give to that especially since it is guaranteed to go straight to the priests and not to other diocesan expenses as the article says the archdiocese did.

2 Comments:

Blogger Ambrose said...

I don't know how this works, but I wonder why or if the diocese can appeal to the Federal Agency that bails out Pension plans, like United Airlines is doing?

11:52 PM  
Blogger Ono said...

Would it have to do with the fact that one is publically owned? That would be interesting to look into.

8:12 AM  

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