After Catholic schools and churches closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles urged parishes to continue paying their staff.
Those employees had accepted meager salaries for years, it said, and now wasn’t the time to abandon them.
“These people have responsibilities, have families. You’ve got to think of that,” Msgr. Albert Bahhuth, the vicar general for the archdiocese, said in a March 24 webinar. “If we lay them off, if we stop paying them, what’s going to happen to them?”
That didn’t stop St. Andrew Catholic Church and its school in Pasadena from going ahead with their furlough, without pay, of more than a dozen workers, a decision Father Marcos Gonzalez said was prompted because there was “no income to pay the employees.”
Workers, who spoke with the Los Angeles Times on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, said they worried about being able to pay their bills and expressed disillusionment with the church.
Days after St. Andrew Catholic School closed on March 13, church employees said, Gonzalez directed the principal to furlough nine workers. At the parish, three full-time and four part-time staffers were furloughed.
In an email to The Times, Gonzalez confirmed that most of the nonteaching personnel at the school had been furloughed and that everyone at the parish was furloughed, “except one part-time bookkeeper since the church and office are closed.”
“This was a very sad decision but required since we have no regular collections so there is no income to pay the employees,” Gonzalez said.
The parish has not applied for a loan, but may do so in the future, according to Gonzalez.
“The suggestion from Msgr. Bahhuth was not practical for us as we have no savings and only recently had started to balance our budget after paying off debt, which I inherited when I was appointed pastor last July,” he said.
Full story at LA Times.