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In Public: Catholic Diocese of Phoenix Pleads Poverty. In Private: Arizona Church Funnels Money to Anti-Gay Campaign in Maine

Arizona’s Catholic Diocese of Phoenix has put on a public face of economic hardship this year:

A poor economy is now affecting the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Diocese of Phoenix eliminated 17 positions, which has resulted in 11 layoffs along with two other positions being cut to part-time.

Among those let go were the assistant superintendent of Catholic schools and director of the Kino Institute, the diocese’s program for theological study and pastoral-ministry formation.

According to diocese spokesman James Dwyer, who confirmed the job reductions, the layoffs are a result of church collections being down 3 percent and will continue to grow to 8 to 10 percent along with anticipation of a budget shortfall between 6 to 10 percent for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

The Diocese has also planned for three week long unpaid furloughs, salary freeze, travel restriction and a hiring freeze.

“This is no different from any other company,” Dwyer said. “Uncertainty is a problem with every organization.”

Laying off people from work led to difficulties, but the Diocese of Phoenix had to be careful with its funds in these trying times:

“There were many good people who were affected by these changes, but we have an obligation to continue to provide prudent and responsible management of the funds that are entrusted to us, especially in challenging economic times. These changes, while difficult, will help us meet our budget and be more efficient with our resources,” said Fr. Fred Adamson, vicar general and moderator of the Curia.

That was the public declaration. In private, the Diocese of Phoenix sent the Ballot Question Committee of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland a $50,000 contribution this summer, to be used to convince Mainers to outlaw same-sex marriage.

While the Diocese of Phoenix puts its workers on unpaid furlough, it delivers wads of cash to another state to sway the outcome of an election. That choice reflects a set of moral priorities: better to keep gay people somewhere else from getting married than to maintain the religious institutions at home.

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