Yesterday, NPR’s Cheryl Corley reported that Chicago’s Catholic Archdiocese will offer 12 weeks of paid parental leave to its employees beginning on July 1. The Chicago Archdiocese employs approximately 15,000 employees and is the third largest archdiocese in the United States. The new policy will cover 7,000 of those employees and is the most generous parental leave policy in the American Catholic Church. Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich explained his decision to implement the new policy, stating, “It really is a part of the church’s teaching to support families. And I thought we should have policies that mirrored what we believe.”

Archbishop Cupich is unfazed by the $1 million per year price tag for providing paid family leave. He told NPR, “We could spend money in a lot of other ways – we do – in, sometimes, maintaining buildings. I’d rather invest in people.”

The Chicago Archdiocese’s parental leave policy is undoubtedly good news for its employees, and it has the potential to be a trendsetter for other religious institutions. Religious communities thrive when they are family-centric, and paid parental leave is a valuable benefit that eases the burden on young families and fosters family growth.

Kudos to Archbishop Cupich for not only recognizing the connection between paid parental leave and the religious mission of promoting social justice, but also for doing something meaningful about it.