CHICAGO — The Archdiocese of Chicago announced Wednesday that it will cut its work force by 14 percent due to "the economic downturn of these past few years."
In Cardinal Francis George's regular online column, he outlines a financial plan in which 75 jobs would be cut, including 55 full-time positions. The cuts will be achieved by laying off 60 people and eliminating 15 vacant jobs, George wrote.
In addition to the layoffs, five schools will be closed or consolidated.
George acknowledged in his letter that the closings will be "disruptive to communities affected" but said the archdiocese will work with families to ensure an easier transition by offering scholarships to nearby Catholic schools. The archdiocese did not tell which schools would be closed.
The archdiocese will also reorganize its ministries as part of the cuts, reducing the total number from 16 to nine. Agencies such as Immigration, Peace & Justice and the Kolbe House Jail Ministry will be merged under the Office of Human Solidarity and Dignity.
"Like so many other families and institutions, the Archdiocese of Chicago has suffered during the economic downturn of these past few years. ... We cannot continue to work as if the effects of the recession were not being felt," George wrote.
According to the archdiocese, the cost reductions will save approximately $11 million to $13 million annually by 2015.
"No doubt this is difficult and shocking news to hear," the Rev. Peter Snieg, moderator of the Curia, wrote to employees in a letter on Wednesday. "There will be many emotions that are shared, such as confusion, concern for the future, disbelief and even anger."
According to Snieg, the archdiocese's deficit for 2012 was $40 million. The deficit has run higher than $30 million for the last four years.
"We need to attack this deficit from all sides," he wrote. "Our hope is to reduce this debt through the sacrifice of all in the next three years so that we may operate from strength."