BOSTON, Mass., Nov. 30, 2022 ― The 2022 Voice of the Faithful diocesan financial transparency report is the organization’s sixth such annual review, and the report shows some bishops are clearly committed to financial transparency. Others, not so much.
This year, the overall average U.S. diocesan transparency score increased from 69% in 2021 to 70% in 2022. The number of dioceses posting current audited financial reports increased from 113 last year to 115 this year. The number posting a current list of Diocesan Finance Council members increased significantly from 84 to 95. All five top-scoring dioceses this year received a score of 100%.
Those dioceses are Charleston, South Carolina; Lexington, Kentucky; Orlando, Florida; Rochester, New York; and Scranton, Pennsylvania. All of them are small to mid-sized dioceses, demonstrating that size and financial resources are not key to achieving financial transparency.
The next three highest scoring dioceses are Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 99%; Belleville, Illinois, 98%; and Stockton, California, 97%.
The dioceses with the most improved scores from 2021 to 2022 are Allentown, Pennsylvania, 20% to 79%; Nashville, Tennessee, 20% to 77%; Covington, Kentucky, 50% to 96%; and Denver, Colorado, 51% to 68%.
The lowest scoring diocese are Springfield, Massachusetts, 25%; Colorado Springs, Colorado, 22%; El Paso, Texas, 22%; Tulsa, Oklahoma, 20%; and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, 7%.
VOTF’s sixth annual review of all 177 dioceses comprising the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was conducted during the summer of 2022 by three independent reviewers and their report, “Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency: 2022 Report,” and all previous VOTF reports on diocesan online financial transparency can be read by clicking here. Links to VOTF’s previous five diocesan online transparency reports can be read by clicking here.
VOTF 2022 reviewers again emphasized that, “Every Catholic shares in the responsibility to ensure that funds donated for Church work actually go toward those purposes. Without access to financial reports and information on Diocesan Finance Councils, budgets, and the overall financial health of a diocese, ordinary Catholics cannot exercise their full responsibility of stewardship or verify where their donations to the diocese go.”
And again, most emphatically, if the Church had been transparent about payments made to silence victims of clergy sexual abuse, the “horror of clergy sexual abuse,” although not prevented, “would have been reported, not covered up, and abusers would have been called to account for their crimes. Victims of serial abusers would have been protected.”
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.