The Archdiocese of Denver recently became the fifth U.S. Diocese on record to offer a 12-week, fully paid maternity leave.

The new policy was announced on April 28, 2022, and it applies to all diocesan employees in the diocesan Pastoral Center. "This paid parental leave policy was a great opportunity to emphasize our support and encouragement of families in their walk with Christ, and really honor the Church’s teachings on openness to life," said Mark Haas, Director of Media and Public Relations for the Archdiocese of Denver.

On the feast of the Annunciation, FemCatholic released a report on the state of paid leave across the 176 U.S. Dioceses. As of press time, less than 40 of those dioceses offered some length of paid leave at 100% of an employee's salary. FemCatholic contacted each diocesan communications and human resources department in the United States multiple times via phone and email. To date, 34 dioceses are on record as offering at least five days of fully paid parental leave to at least their chancery or pastoral center employees. 

In the month following the release of the report, FemCatholic has continued to receive information from dioceses and diocesan employees. Two U.S. Catholic Dioceses recently announced paid leave policies for their chancery employees. 

The Diocese of St. Augustine announced a two-week leave for adoptive and biological parents on April 26, 2022. Prior to this paid leave policy, which goes into effect on July 1, women who worked for the Diocese of St. Augustine could pay for a short-term disability insurance policy or use sick days to cover their twelve weeks of unpaid leave guaranteed through FMLA. Female employees in the Diocese of St. Augustine can still opt into a short-term disability insurance policy to cover part of their pay after their two weeks of fully paid leave

Two days later, the Archdiocese of Denver, which previously did not offer a maternity or paternity leave policy, announced a parental leave policy that offers sixty days of leave for mothers and thirty days of leave for fathers. The Archdiocese of Denver, with a population of approximately 600,000 Catholics, holds approximately $81 million in assets, according to its 2020 financial statements. The average Catholic diocese in the United States holds roughly $120 million in assets and has a population of just over 400,000.

The policy became effective for employees starting in August 2021. And, throughout the year, the Archdiocese began finalizing the details of the plan. Although the Archdiocese did not offer parental leave, Mr. Haas said that it had a "very generous PTO policy." 

Because many women need to use sick days to care for children or schedule doctor's appointments during pregnancy (or use them for times in which they are actually sick), using their general paid time off is often not enough to cover the twelve weeks of parental leave guaranteed by FMLA and recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

The Archdiocese of Denver is offering this paid leave to employees who have worked at the pastoral center for 12 months. Employees who have worked at least six months are eligible for half of the paid leave offered. The Archdiocese of Denver, one of approximately 40 dioceses that require Natural Family Planning courses for couples marrying in the diocese, offers reimbursement for Natural Family Planning education and materials for archdiocesan employees and their spouses.

With their new policy, which retroactively went into effect August 21, 2021, the Archdiocese of Denver has become the fifth dioceses in the United States to offer twelve weeks of fully paid leave to employees, joining the Archdioceses of Chicago, New York, Raleigh, and the Diocese of Omaha. 

The Archdiocese of Denver cited the decision to offer this leave as a specifically pro-life action. Their leadership expressed hope that other dioceses would trust in God to provide for an action that would create a culture more in line with the teachings of the Church.

"We celebrate the heroic decisions of our employees to welcome life and children into their families," said Mr. Haas.

Renée Roden

Editor of Special Projects, 2021-present

Renée Darline Roden holds a B.A. and M.T.S. in theology from the University of Notre Dame and an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University. She is the executive director of Catholic Artist Connection and a freelance writer and playwright. Her plays have appeared at The Tank and the Bushwick Starr in New York City and at universities in Dallas and South Bend. Her writing has appeared in the Associated Press, Washington Post, Religion News Service, The Tablet, and America Magazine. She lives at St. Francis Catholic Worker House in Chicago.

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