The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington finished its last fiscal year with a deficit of $1.3 million.
The diocese says most of the shortfall is due to a large settlement made with a man who had been abused in the 1970s by a diocese priest.
VPR’s Steve Zind reports:
(Zind) A year ago, the diocese announced it had finished the fiscal year with a $128,000 deficit.
That figure has now increased tenfold.
In releasing the diocese’s annual report for the fiscal year ending June 30th, Vermont Bishop Salvatore Mutano explained that almost a million dollars of the deficit is due to a loan taken out by the church. The loan paid for a settlement in a case of child sexual abuse by a diocese priest.
One area the church has been struggling with is providing for retired priests. Over time it’s expected Vermont’s aging priest population will tax the diocese retirement fund to the tune of $12 million.
In the last fiscal year, the diocese moved nearly $4 million of its assets into the Priests Benefit Fund to provide for retiring clergy.
Priests receive little in social security, so many must rely on the modest retirement benefits offered by the diocese.
The move could also protect that money from plaintiffs in abuse cases.
About twenty other abuse cases are pending and settlements of a similar size to the one reached earlier this year could prove catastrophic for the church.
For VPR news I’m Steve Zind.