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BISHOPS-USCCB Nov-13-2008 (340 words) xxxn

Bishops approve $144 million budget, plans and programs for 2009

By Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops Nov. 11 approved a $144 million budget for 2009, as well as more than 230 pages of plans and programs for the Washington headquarters of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Coadjutor Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of Cincinnati, USCCB treasurer, said the budget represented a 2.25 percent increase over 2008, although the assessment on dioceses in 2009 to fund the conference remained the same as in 2008.

He said the conference was projecting a deficit of $308,139 in its general fund but planned to cover the deficit "from any 2008 underspending" or from reserves, "which are adequate."

Because USCCB investment income is averaged over three years, Archbishop Schnurr said, "investment income for 2009 is slightly more than 2008."

"However, the impact of recent market volatility will be reflected in the 2010-2012 budgets," he added. "We will have to closely monitor that impact and should exercise greater caution in anticipation that investment income will probably not increase sufficiently in the next year to reverse what seems to be occurring in 2008."

Archbishop Schnurr also announced a $10 million endowment campaign for Villa Stritch, the Rome residence for U.S. priests working at the Vatican. The 24-month campaign will be conducted by a professional development group at no cost to the USCCB, he said.

The bishops also approved, by a vote of 230-4, a lengthy document listing plans and programs for each USCCB department and office.

On the first day of the Nov. 10-12 meeting, the bishops agreed to a revised process for submitting "varia" -- new issues that an individual bishop or group of bishops would like to see considered by the full body. The new process was designed to allow for flexibility but conform to criteria established under the USCCB reorganization last year.

The bishops also decided by voice vote to review the USCCB regulations on statements and publications in light of the reorganization. Revised regulations were expected to be submitted to the full body in June.


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