Where has all the money gone?

Does the following story from Philadelphia show how lack of transparency and lay input into church finances lead to financial disaster, or what happens when a substantial percentage of your paying customers stop buying, or a bit of both? In its paper Financial Transparency and Accountability, distributed during its recently concluded 10th Year Conference, Voice of the Faithful shows itself to have been a long-time proponent of the idea that parishioners have a right to know where their money goes.

Archdiocese of Philadelphia in Serious Financial Shape – and So Are Its Parishes

“The fortunes of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and its more than 250 parishes are deeply and tortuously entwined. The archdiocese, the central organizing force for 1.46 million Catholics in Southeastern Pennsylvania, depends on money from member parishes to pay for churchwide activities and to shift money to weaker parishes. But that formula is broken: Too many parishes have seen attendance fall and offerings shrivel, rendering them unable to support themselves …

“A financial report published in June that covers the fiscal year ended June 30, 2011 – before (Archbishop Charles) Chaput arrived – was far more detailed than those of his predecessors, but still lacked key information. ‘It probably seems to them that they are being more transparent,’ said Nancy Gunza, a partner in the Plymouth Meeting office of the accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen, who looked at the June financial report. ‘But without a fully consolidated set of financial statements, the picture’s not complete.'” By Harold Brubaker, Philadelphia Inquirer

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