“Future today”: savings target achieved

The Archdiocese of Cologne wants to present a balanced budget again in 2007. This means that the savings target of the "Future Today" concept has been achieved, said Vicar General Dominik Schwaderlapp to journalists in Cologne on Monday. "Next year we will have saved 75 million euros."The remaining cut of 15 million euros will be achieved in 2009.

The archdiocese Cologne wants to present 2007 again a balanced budget. Thus the savings goal of the concept "future today" is reached, said Generalvikar Dominik Schwaderlapp on Monday before journalists in Cologne. "In the next year we will have saved 75 million euros."The remaining cut of 15 million euros will be achieved in 2009. Thus the archdiocese lowers the budget durably by 90 million euro or 13 per cent. The starting point was the 2004 budget of 682 million euros. In 2005 and 2006, the archdiocese drew on reserves to balance revenues and expenses despite declining church tax revenues. Listen to a this site report on two years of "Future Today. Thanks to full-time and volunteer workers The church tax council had discussed the budget 2007 on Saturday. The archdiocese expects an increase in church tax revenues for the first time again this year. For 2006, 3 percent more could be expected, for the following year 1.7 percent, it was said. That is 621 million euros for the current year and 648.3 million euros for the following year. Since the year 2000, the amount had decreased by 80 million euros.Schwaderlapp thanked full-time and volunteer staff for their "constructive attitude" in implementing the cost-cutting measures. The municipalities had shown a "high level of acceptance," even if the concept had involved "painful cuts" in some cases. 338 of the 4.500 full-time positions in the archdiocese have been eliminated, he said. But only 34 employees had to be laid off. The remaining cases, he said, were resolved "amicably" through partial retirement, retirement or transfer.

No church closures for financial reasons The positions of sextons, church musicians or secretaries, who are directly employed by the 221 pastoral areas, were reduced by 13.5 percent, as the vicar general said. That had happened by the reduction of hourly contingents; here only one employee had been dismissed.Half of the savings sum of 90 million euros will be cut from the parishes by 2008. The pastoral areas are reducing their costs for non-clerical staff, the Christmas bonus for pastors and the kindergarten groups. They also plan to sell meeting rooms and ministry apartments. "The abandonment of churches is not part of the concept," Schwaderlapp emphasized.Cardinal Joachim Meisner had agreed in 2005 to the profanation of six houses of worship. But this was only for pastoral reasons, not financial ones.The number of kindergarten groups will not be reduced by 900 as planned, but by 809, as the vicar general emphasized. From 2008, the archdiocese still wants 1.400 groups maintained with subsidies.308 it wants to close, 98 groups go into municipal sponsorship and 197 are then "specially financed" by cities and municipalities. The closures will affect 650 kindergarten teachers, who, according to Schwaderlapp, will be placed in other parochial kindergartens.

"Has not plunged us into depression" In categorical pastoral care such as youth and pastoral care for foreigners, 11 million euros will reportedly be cut, and 10 million euros in administration. Caritas receives 6 million euros less, schools and educational institutions 5 million each. 8 million euros are being cut in special areas that go beyond the archdiocese, for example. The vicar general emphasized that from the beginning the intention was to cut more in administration and less in the social sector.Cardinal Meisner had addressed the parishes on Sunday with a pastoral message. It said: "The concept 'Future Today' has not plunged us into depression, but has allowed us to experience that a living church does not depend primarily on its material possibilities, but on our openness to the living presence of the Lord."(KNA)

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