BY CATHLEEN FALSANI RELIGION REPORTER
Bucking the trend in other dioceses across the nation, weekly donations in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago was up by 2.6 percent in 2002, according to the archdiocese's annual financial report, released Thursday.
Weekly donations at 374 parishes in Cook and Lake counties totaled $194.1 million last fiscal year, said Thomas Brennan, director of finance for the archdiocese. Overall parish contributions, which include weekly donations and special campaigns, rose by $22.3 million, or 7.6 percent, to a record $317.1 million.
A Gallup poll published earlier this week showed that, nationally, four out of 10 Roman Catholics say that this year's devastating clergy sex-abuse scandal has made them less likely to contribute to the church.
From 2001 to 2002, parishes increased their net assets by more than 15 percent, to $911 million, Brennan said. But some parishes continue to struggle financially to maintain large building complexes with smaller than average congregations in poorer communities, the financial report said.
"The mission of the Catholic Church is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and share the gifts that Christ gives his people for the salvation of the world," Cardinal Francis George said. "Because many leaders in the archdiocese understood the challenges to continuing this mission, a plan was created to manage better our revenues and expenses. Despite the difficulties of the present economic climate, we are meeting the enormous needs more effectively."
Chicago's mix of religions: New population figures for religious communities in the Chicago area show there are more Muslims living in the area than Jews or Orthodox Christians.
The figures, from the National Conference for Community and Justice, are based on statistics submitted to the organization by various religious communities, including: American Indian; Anglican; Baha'i; Buddhist; Catholic (including Bielarusian, Chaldean, Marionite, Melkite, Roman, Ruthenian, Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankar and Ukranian); Hindu; Muslim; Jain; Jewish; Mormon; Orthodox; Protestant (including Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, African Methodist Episcopal and United Church of Christ); Sikh and Zoroastrian.
* Catholic Christian: 3,010,000 people in the Chicago area.
* Protestant Christian: 2 million.
* Muslim: 400,000.
* Orthodox Christian: 350,000.
* Jewish: 260,000.
* Buddhist: 150,000.
* Hindu: 80,000.
* Anglican/Episcopalian: 50,000.
* Mormon: 28,000.
* American Indian: 15,000.
* Sikh: 6,000.
* Jain: 5,000.
* Baha'i: 2,000.
* Zoroastrian: 700.
The National Conference released the figures as it published its popular Interfaith Calendar, which includes listings of holy days and observances for all 14 religious communities. The calendars sell for $18 and are available by calling (312) 236-9272 or (800) 311-9823.
©Copyright 2002, Chicago Sun-Times (IL, USA)