The U.S. Roman Catholic Church has an unfunded liability of $8.7 billion for the future care of elderly priests, nuns and brothers, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. That figure is expected to reach $20 billion by 2023, according to a consulting firm's estimates. Eighty-two percent of Church retirees are nuns, and -- with the majority of nuns now older than 70 -- they are "especially vulnerable," the AP/Post-Intelligencer reports. The National Religious Retirement Office for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in a June survey, which has not yet been released publicly, finds that spending for retirees in 2005 totaled $926 million. That amount compares with a "total of $499 million received over the past 18 years from annual special parish collections to aid retirees," the AP/Post-Intelligencer reports. Sister Andree Fries, executive director of the retirement office, said that "the impact is more minimal than one might think" because members of religious orders "are very much about mission" rather than worrying about their future needs. Fries added that her office believes only 4% of nuns are funded adequately for their retirement needs. She said of the unfunded liability, "Am I discouraged that we'll ever get there? I'm sobered, but not discouraged, because religious are can-do people" (AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 7/28).

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