Friday, July 28, 2006

Rumsfeldism Infects The Church

With tens of thousands of U.S. nuns over age 70, the Roman Catholic Church is facing a massive financial shortfall for the care of retirees in religious orders — a gap that over the long term dwarfs costs from the clergy abuse crisis. ...

Sisters, who make up 82 percent of retirees, are especially vulnerable. ... With far fewer younger novices being recruited, the majority of sisters are now more than 70 years old....

Briggs writes that the looming financial threat "sapped the creative energies of communities." But Sister Andree Fries, the 64-year-old executive director of the U.S. retirement office, disagrees.

She says "the impact is more minimal than one might think" because members of orders "are very much about mission" and not worrying about their future needs. Also, orders are "spending their future retirement money for current bills" — so they are not uncomfortable at the moment.

What about the projected multi-billion-dollar gap? "Is it a big number? Yes," Fries said. "Am I discouraged that we'll ever get there? I'm sobered, but not discouraged, because religious are can-do people."
They are eating their seed corn with both hands.

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