Posts Tagged Catholic diocese online financial transparency
Study shows 65% of U.S. Dioceses post audited financial reports online, but 27% post no financial information
Voice of the Faithful has completed its third annual study of U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency. Among the study’s findings are that:
- 65% of U.S. dioceses have exhibited a commitment to financial transparency by sharing audited financial reports on their websites;
- The percentage of U.S. dioceses posting audited financial reports has increased from 56% in 2017 to 61% in 2018 to 65% in 2019;
- 8% of the dioceses provided only unaudited reports in 2019, and the remaining 27% posted no financial information at all;
- The average diocesan transparency score dropped slightly in 2019 due to tighter scoring criteria, but some dioceses achieved dramatic improvement; and
- Other dioceses have stopped posting audited reports, causing their scores to drop sharply.
The study concluded that, although a majority of dioceses have made a commitment to financial transparency, a sizable minority share little or no verifiable financial information with their members. The average overall score achieved by all 177 dioceses comprising the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Voice of the Faithful’s 2019 report was 65.25%.
Five dioceses received perfect scores of 100%:
- Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska;
- Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina;
- Diocese of Erie. Pennsylvania;
- Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and
- Diocese of Rochester, New York.
A Step Toward Accountability / Voice of Faithful diocesan financial transparency study on Commonweal.org
Transparent financial reporting would have revealed the extent of the settlements bishops made, and lay Catholics would have been aware that abuse was not rare but widespread. (Voice of Faithful diocesan financial transparency study on Commonweal.org)
Reports of sexual abuse and cover-ups within the church hierarchy have led to increased attention to the church’s secrecy around its finances. Until only recent decades, U.S. diocesan financial affairs were kept confidential and knowledge was compartmentalized; even some very highly placed diocesan officials were unaware of the settlements used to keep clerical sexual abuse under wraps. It was generally assumed that once contributions hit the collection basket, parishioners had no business knowing how the bishops used that money. What they would have learned is that the U.S. Catholic Church has spent $3.99 billion related to clerical-abuse settlements.
“Before the Boston Globe’s 2002 “Spotlight” report, most Catholics in the pews thought that clerical abuse was rare. But presiding bishops knew differently: both from their personal experiences, and from the work of Fr. Thomas Doyle and others, who reported in the 1980s on the prevalence of abuse in the church. When Rev. Gilbert Gauthe admitted to abusing more than three hundred children in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, in 1986, or in 1993 when Rev. James Porter was sentenced to between eighteen and twenty years in prison for sexual abuse of children in Fall River, Massachusetts, there was minimal discussion of the role that church funds might have played in keeping those stories quiet.
“Transparent financial reporting would have revealed the extent of the settlements bishops made, and lay Catholics would have been aware that abuse was not rare but widespread. With this information made public, many children could have been spared the devastating effects of child abuse. Even were abuse to occur, church officials would not have been able to cover it up with secret settlements. Serial abuse would have been far less likely …”
By David Castaldi, Joseph Finn and Margaret Roylance on Commonweal.org — Read more …
David Castaldi was a biotechnology entrepreneur and CEO who also served as Chancellor and CFO of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston (RCAB). Joseph Finn was a member of the RCAB’s Diocesan Finance Council and authored its initial charter. Margaret Roylance is a research materials engineer, Vice President of Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), and Chair of its Finance Working Group. All three were among the founding members of VOTF.