A slumping stock market coupled with a series of settlements in priest sex abuse cases has caused the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange to post a $14.3 million loss, church officials said.
It’s the second straight loss for the diocese, which reported a $14 million drop last year.
“It’s very frustrating,” Bishop Tod D. Brown said. “It makes me more reliant on God.”
The diocese is one of the nation’s largest, with roughly 1 million Catholics and 60 worship centers.
The diocese has spent about $7 million over the past two years to settle sexual abuse lawsuits against its priests, the Orange County Register reported Monday.
The diocese has also suffered because of a decline in charitable contributions. The diocese has received angry letters from parishioners saying they would no longer donate, Brown said.
Overall contributions from parishes, grants and bequests are down more than $5 million, to about $13.7 million, the newspaper said.
The diocese’s investment portfolio, worth about $200 million, lost about $3.8 million last year. It has lost an additional $13 million since July 1, said Philip Ries, director of finance.
The losses have helped shrink the diocese’s reserves to about $121.6 million, down from $135.9 million at the start of the year.
If the stock market continues to fall, the diocese will be forced to make cuts, Brown said. Two people were laid off last year and about 12 positions weren’t filled when employees left.