Posts Tagged dioceses
Stem parish closures and mergers pleads U.S. priests group / National Catholic Reporter
Posted by Voice of the Faithful in church reform, Future of the Church, Priests, Voice of the Faithful on February 1, 2017
An association of nearly 1,200 U.S. priests is in the final development stages of issuing an urgent ‘plea’ to the U.S. bishops to ‘formulate a plan now to meet this emerging crisis’ of parish closings and consolidations.
“In a working draft it calls a ‘Proposal for Pastoral Care In & Thru Priestless Parishes,’ the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests exhorts the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and ‘dioceses nationwide’ to quickly address the issue.
“Core to the plan is ‘new and more specific exploration’ of lay ecclesial ministers to oversee non-sacramental aspects of parish life and administration, according to a proposed plan cover letter contained in an email to NCR.”
By Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
U.S. dioceses consult Catholics on family issues for fall synod / National Catholic Reporter
Posted by Voice of the Faithful in Catholic Bishops, Synod of Bishops, Synod on the Family, Voice of the Faithful on February 17, 2015
Catholics who want to give input to their local bishops ahead of October’s global Synod of Bishops on the family have ample opportunity — but they better hurry.
“A preliminary sampling of 21 dioceses around the U.S. found all were seeking input from individual Catholics through online surveys or parish consultations, and information on how to provide that input was easily available through the local diocesan newspaper, the diocesan website, or both.
“But most dioceses in this preliminary sampling are closing the consultation in early March, and at least a few are closing the consultations as early as Friday. Many dioceses issued the invitation to participate in surveys in January. Juneau, Alaska, seems to be earliest, issuing an invitation Jan. 14.
“In 2013, Pope Francis initiated a two-year churchwide consultation on the family that included an extraordinary Synod of Bishops, which met at the Vatican in October 2014, and an ordinary Synod of Bishops, which will meet Oct. 4-25 at the Vatican and focus on the theme, ‘The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World.’”
By Dennis Coday, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Millions of dollars each year slip through Roman Catholic collection baskets
Posted by Voice of the Faithful in Catholic Church Finances, Voice of the Faithful on January 6, 2015
The Vatican recently reported finding hundreds of millions of dollars “tucked away” off the official balance sheet. This is only one dimension of the Roman Catholic Church’s need for financial accountability. In the United States, theft, fraud and embezzlement occur at every level, with parishes alone losing millions of dollars each year from Sunday collections.
Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful® is urging parishes and dioceses to adopt simple security procedures that can protect weekly collections, which are the primary source of income for most parishes, and has developed a simple test to assess the effectiveness of current security procedures.
A 2007 Villanova University survey found that 85 percent of the responding Roman Catholic dioceses had discovered losses and theft of church money in the previous five years, with 11 percent reporting that more than $500,000 had been stolen. A 2014 study of small businesses by the University of Cincinnati found that 64 percent of small businesses say they experience employee theft; although only 16 percent report them. Parishes closely resemble small businesses in size and number of employees.
A few headlines from the past seven years continue on that theme: “Priest indicted for nearly $700,000 church theft,” “Deacon sentenced to jail for stealing $120,000,” “Pastor gets five years in prison for stealing $200,000 from parish,” “Catholic priest pleads guilty to at least $100K collection plate theft,” “Ex-pastor accused of taking $83,000 from parish,” “Religious education director and maintenance worker charged with stealing collection cash,” “Former priest avoids prison and repays stolen parish funds,” “Cops charge usher with swiping cash”—the list goes on.
Additionally, National Catholic Reporter reported in 2012 that, “according to the most modest estimates, at least $89 million donated each year by the people never gets to the intended Catholic cause or recipient due to theft.”
But those losses can be cut. Parish and diocesan finance councils, which Church Canon Law requires, “would do well to assess the adequacy of their Sunday collection procedures and make necessary changes to secure the collections,” says Michael W. Ryan, the author of Nonfeasance: The Remarkable Failure of the Catholic Church to Protect Its Primary Source of Income, who has conducted a 25-year crusade to convince the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to adopt simple security procedures that protect cash collections.
“The level of this protection varies widely from parish to parish and diocese to diocese, and the quality of that protection ranges from good, to marginal or poor, with the latter being highly susceptible to weekly losses due to theft,” Ryan says. “This is why it is absolutely critical to positively secure the collections at the first opportunity—when the ushers meet to consolidate their baskets—and to maintain that level of security throughout the process, up to and including the deposit of all monies into the parish account.”
But “Ryan’s attempt to help the church clean up the loose security policies that drain funds has met with such deep-seated disinterest that he has virtually despaired of getting anywhere,” the NCR article cited above said.
As a first step toward better security, VOTF has developed a simple self-test, with Ryan’s help. He is a retired federal law enforcement official experienced in the conduct of financial audits and security investigations and serves on VOTF’s board of trustees. The test may be downloaded from VOTF’s website by clicking here. Consisting of 10 true-false questions, this test quickly and easily provides any finance council or interested Catholic a general sense of how well or how poorly their parish or diocese’s collections are protected.
As a second step, those who take this self-test and find that their collections are not as secure as expected may download appropriate guidelines from VOTF’s Parish Financial Accountability web page by clicking here. According to Ryan, these guidelines will help ensure that every dollar placed into the collection baskets each weekend is, in fact, properly deposited into the parish account.
As evidence of their efficacy, Ryan says, the guidelines were codified and implemented by the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2005. Subsequently, National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management adopted them as the best practice for handling collections. NLRCM is a respected organization of laity, religious and clergy working together to promote excellence and best practices in management, finances and human resources within the Catholic Church in America.
More information is available at www.churchsecurity.info and www.votf.org.
Also of interest: Calls grow for reform in Catholic Church financial affairs