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11/14/2012 11:02:00 AM
Bishops approve $220 million budget, add military services collection
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services addresses the U.S. bishops during their annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 13.
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services addresses the U.S. bishops during their annual fall meeting in Baltimore Nov. 13.
Catholic News Service

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a 2013 budget of $220.4 million and agreed to add a national collection for the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services.

The vote was 200-24 with nine abstentions on the budget.

The budget for 2013 represents a 1.3 percent increase from 2012.

The new collection for the military archdiocese would begin in 2013. Under the plan, the collection would be taken voluntarily in parishes every three years.

Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, of Wheeling-Charleston, W. Va., USCCB treasurer, said the 2013 budget includes a surplus totaling more than $749,000.

He also told the bishops that there was a projected surplus of $250,000 for 2014, meaning there was no need to seek an increase in the annual diocesan assessment for USCCB operations.

The conference also has taken steps to ease growing long-term deficits from expenditures under its pension plan. The conference announced in September the intent to change the plan from a defined benefit program to a defined contribution arrangement beginning Jan. 1, 2014. The retirement benefits of employees vested on that date will be frozen and the new program will then kick in.

Bishop Bransfield said the new arrangement will stabilize costs and allow the pension program to be sustainable into the future.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., asked about the impact of the pension program's changes on single women in particular. Noting that his archdiocese was undergoing a similar revision of its retirement plan, he suggested that the USCCB review the changes being implemented to ease the financial impact on single women.

Bishop Bransfield said the plan had been under development since 2011 and that due consideration was given to the situation of all employees. He explained that employees vested by the end of 2013 would not lose benefits.

The collection for the military archdiocese was approved by a vote of 123-42 with eight abstentions.

Bishop George V. Murry of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Priorities and Plans, explained the collection would be timed to coincide with the Veterans Day holiday in November or "some other strategic date."

The Archdiocese for the Military Services serves 1.8 million people, including Catholics serving in the armed services, their families, students enrolled in the military academies and patients in Veterans Administration medical centers, Bishop Murry said in explaining the proposal for the collection to the bishops.

"The archdiocese is not funded by the federal government and is severely limited in how it can seek contributions at military services attended by the faithful," he said.

"With our country at war for more than 10 years, the men and women of the military have experienced very heavy burdens and hardships," he added. "This collection would allow Catholics to express support for military personnel and help support the archdiocese."

The bishops also approved a plan to add two staff members.

One would serve in the National Religious Retirement Office and work directly with religious congregations. The bishops voted 174-49 with two abstentions in favor of the position. The proposal for the position said it would be funded by the annual national collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious.

The second position would be in the Secretariat for Cultural Diversity in the Church serving the Subcommittee on Native American Affairs. The bishops voted 180-40 with six abstentions to approve the position, which would be funded by the annual Black and Indian Mission Collection.

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