5 Faith-Based Charities

Rated Highly Efficient Five of the nation's largest faith-based charities have been included among Worth magazine's 100 most efficient charitable groups.

In its December issue, the magazine rates a range of environmental, relief, health, human services and arts charities on how they spend an average of $100 in donations. Groups that spend $75 on actual services rather than on fundraising, future reserves or administrative costs generally are considered most efficient.

The magazine requires that charities be national or international in scope, be nonpolitical and have a track record of at least three years' service.

America's Second Harvest, which funnels food to families and soup kitchens -- two-thirds of them at houses of worship -- spends $95 of each $100 on services, $2 on fundraising and $1 on administration and puts $2 in reserves.

Catholic Charities, the nation's fourth-largest charity with $2.6 billion in revenue, spends an average of $88 on services, $1 on fundraising and $9 on administration and puts $2 in reserves.

Lutheran Services in America, rated by the Nonprofit Times as the nation's largest charity with $7.6 billion in income, spends approximately $88 on services, 30 cents on fundraising and $8 on administration and puts $4 in reserves.

Volunteers of America, a Christian group that serves 1.4 million people each year, spends $85 on services, $2 on fundraising and $9 on administration and puts $4 in reserves.

The Salvation Army, perhaps the nation's best-known charity with $1.9 billion in income, spends $72 on services, $4 on fundraising and $10 on administration and puts $14 in reserves.

Canadian Bishop Picks

Woman Over Church A retired Roman Catholic bishop in Canada has asked the Vatican to allow him to leave the priesthood so he can continue to live with a woman.

"I'm in love with a woman," the Rev. Raymond Dumais, bishop emeritus of Gaspe, said in a radio interview. "I can't live two lives. I don't feel I'm living in sin. I feel I'm living something special," said the 52-year-old theologian, who lives with an unidentified woman near Rimouski, Quebec.

Marriage has been discussed, but the couple isn't "at that stage yet," said Dumais, a priest since 1976 who resigned his bishop's position in 2001 after what friends and colleagues said was a prolonged period of burnout.

Monsignor Peter Schonenbach, general secretary of the Canadian Catholic Conference of Bishops, said the canonical process of returning a bishop to the status of a layperson is "very, very special" and proceeds according to individual circumstances.

"It is really up to his relationship with the Holy Father. There is no process as such. It is merely a matter of him trying to petition the Holy Father," Schonenbach said.

Mormon Church

Pares Workforce The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently cut hundreds of jobs from its workforce in Utah.

About 600 of 1,000 employees eligible for early retirement chose to do so, most during the week of Dec. 22, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. About 40 percent of the vacated posts will not be filled.

The church has an estimated 33,355 people on its payroll in Utah.

"Like many large organizations attempting to meet the challenges of a difficult economy, the church is reviewing a number of options to better manage overall costs, including numbers of employees," said Dale Bills, a church spokesman.

The departures include some of the most senior and experienced members of the church's staff, with an average age of 66 and an average of 17 years in church employment.

The church is the largest employer in Utah, having about 10,000 more employees than the state government. The departure of 600 employees represents a 2 percent reduction in church employment in the state.

Total church employment includes its flagship school in Provo, Brigham Young University, which has a staff of 18,000, and for-profit businesses such as Deseret Industries.

Deseret employs 1,700 people to collect, refurbish and resell used furniture, appliances, clothes and other merchandise.

-- Religion News Service