Salary freeze lifted in Sacramento diocese — but not by much

For the first time in three years, employees of the Diocese of Sacramento — including priests — will get a pay raise in 2012.

In a Jan. 9 letter addressed to pastors, parochial administrators, parish stewards, school administrators and agency directors, Bishop Jaime Soto said he had decided to authorize a 2 percent pay increase in the diocese, though he acknowledged the small raise will not keep pace with inflation. 

“Each year, I publish a salary adjustment that serves as the standard guideline for lay employees, priests employed by our parishes, schools, agencies, and the central administrative offices of the diocese,” wrote Bishop Soto. “In each of the last three fiscal years I have published a salary freeze with no step increases, in order to better sustain Church ministries in a very challenging economic environment.”

“The 2% increase this year strikes a prudent balance in the current economic environment,” said the bishop’s letter. “The adjustment recognizes that there has been no meaningful recovery from the significant economic downturn that has plagued our nation and especially our region over the last several years.”

The bishop painted a bleak picture of current economic realities in the Sacramento diocese: “California maintains the second highest unemployment rate in the U.S.; home foreclosure activity remains high locally; home values have continued to decline over the last year; commercial vacancy rates remain high; construction activity is minimal; and large State budget shortfalls have and will continue to negatively impact our economy at least through 2012-2013.”

“This economic situation,” wrote Bishop Soto, “continues to place financial stress on our parish families, on our parish budgets, and increases even more the challenge for families who make sacrifices to offer a Catholic school education for their children. The adjustment balances this reality against the 3.2% increase in the CPI index over the last year.”

While authorizing a 2% across-the-board salary boost, Bishop Soto said he was keeping in place a freeze on “step increases,” which are automatic pay increases based on longevity.

In addition to pay freezes, the bishop has implemented other cost-cutting policies in the last several years in an effort to keep diocesan finances sound. In May 2010, Bishop Soto announced a mandatory, unpaid furlough program for all employees and priests at the diocese’s pastoral center. He said the move was necessary to protect diocesan resources and to limit staff lay-offs.

In April 2010, Bishop Soto announced he was shutting down the diocesan newspaper, theCatholic Herald, and its Spanish-language counterpart, El Heraldo. He replaced the print newspapers with a bi-monthly, electronic magazine outsourced to an unidentified “Catholic publishing service.” The decision resulted in the elimination of the staffs of both newspapers, but two longtime employees — the editor and the advertising manager — were hired by the publishing service in the deal.



Posted Thursday, January 12, 2012 9:17 AM By Marie
Dropping most of the resource-consuming, do-nothing or very little, bureaucrats in the Pastoral Center would be a great start to paring the Diocesan payroll. Also, I believe the staff have a liberal holiday schedule and work (?) only a 35 hour week. This is better than justice – for some, anyway.

Posted Thursday, January 12, 2012 3:47 PM By Max K
The “unidentified ‘Catholic publishing service'” referred to is “Faith Catholic”, out of Lansing, Michigan. Many of the same individuals whose names are found on the Catholic Herald masthead are found in the same positions in a number of other so-called diocesan magazines. While there are a few more features about Sacramento Diocese individuals, those generally found to be acceptable by the Herald “editor”, there is still a basic silence about the Catholic faith as it relates to abortion and homosexuality – major problems to Catholics. The reader is better off learning about the Catholic Church by reading CalCatholicDaily.

Posted Thursday, January 12, 2012 7:29 PM By JLS
First they do a Canon 915 freeze, and now a salary freeze; what next?

Posted Friday, January 13, 2012 2:38 PM By Abeca Christian
JLS you are funny. I enjoy your sense of humor. : )

Posted Friday, January 13, 2012 5:51 PM By JLS
Thankyou, Abeca, but sometimes my efforts at humor get me in trouble … an brief prayer on this account wouldn’t hurt, thanks.

Posted Sunday, January 15, 2012 10:46 PM By Abeca Christian
JLS that’s because people don’t get you or they disagree, who cares what they think, I just appreciate them because it helps us get off our crazy side. Keep on! Plus we can’t always be so rigid, humor gets the point across and it is not so insulting as long as it is done in good taste. Plus I know the teenagers enjoy them and it attracts their intention and may even get them thinking about it.

Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2012 5:57 PM By JLS
Thanks, Abeca, you seem very tuned into the “wave length” I’ve mumbled about. My perceived crisis seems to have either not existed or disappeared.

Posted Thursday, January 19, 2012 9:59 PM By Abeca Christian
JLS it’s a pity that others are not of like minded. My friend yo te comprendo. (God understands you too) Keep on!