“This is the third year of studies on financial transparency compiled by Voice of the Faithful, which was founded in 2002 as a lay organization devoted to monitoring church management on sex abuse and finances.
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Despite financial stress, many, but not all, U.S. dioceses post audited financial reports
Despite financial stress from the COVID-19 pandemic and clergy sexual abuse settlements, the number of dioceses posting audited financial reports to their websites rose 5% in the past year, according to Voice of the Faithful’s 2020 study of U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency.
However, 43 dioceses posted no financial information at all, and overall, diocesan transparency dropped slightly from 65.11% in 2019 to 64.76% in 2020. Relatively stagnant overall scores resulted, at least in part, from the change of one word in Question #8. The reviewers added the word “current” to Question #8, which refers to lists of Diocesan Finance Council members. Dioceses scoring zero on Question #8 almost doubled from 2019 to 2020, going from 68 to 113 out of 177 dioceses and offsetting major gains in scores overall. According to the study’s authors the importance of the DFC and lay membership cannot be overstated. Lay members “represent the laity of the diocese in ensuring that their donations advance the mission of the Church,” VOTF’s study says.
VOTF’s fourth annual review of all dioceses comprising the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was conducted between June 1 and Aug. 31 by three independent reviewers and their report, “Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency: 2020 Report,” found that:
- 70% of U.S. dioceses posted audited financial reports on their websites;
- U.S. dioceses posting audited financial reports increased from 65% in 2019 to 70% in 2020;
- 6% of the dioceses provided only unaudited reports, and 24% posted no reports at all;
- 93% of dioceses now post a central finance page on their websites, making it easier for members of the faithful to find available financial information.
The top five dioceses, each of which received a perfect score of 100%, were the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Maryland, and, for the second consecutive year, the Archdioceses of Anchorage, Alaska, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Dioceses of Erie, Pennsylvania, and Rochester, New York. The five lowest scoring dioceses were Camden, New Jersey; Crookston, Minnesota; Lubbock, Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.
VOTF’s annual review continues to emphasize the importance of financial transparency, especially in an era of continually tightening finances and dioceses’ attempts to minimize the effects of clergy abuse settlements.
VOTF’s 2020 report points out:
“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 go … This 2020 report and the three that preceded it provide tools that faithful Catholics can use to understand how their diocese uses their donations and to help them exercise good stewardship of the gifts God has given them.”
You can read VOTF’s previous annual reports on diocesan online financial transparency by clicking here.
“It is the community that brings intimacy with Christ, that brings intimacy with the holy faithful people of God. It is community we need.” (Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter)
As the human race joins the rest of the planet in a struggle for survival, the church is also trying to find its footing.
“For too long — say, 800 to 1,000 years — the sacramental life of the church has been under priestly lock and key. Around the 10th century, the custom of stipends for Masses arose. Suddenly, the spiritual value of men’s prayers gained over the spiritual value of women’s prayers and women’s abbeys and monasteries failed one after another.
“Coincidentally, the cursus honorum (‘course of honor’) ended the diaconate as a permanent vocation. Unless one was destined for priesthood, he could not be ordained as deacon. Very few men became “permanent” deacons and women deacons — even abbesses — were no longer ordained.
“Which brings us back to clericalism, the attitude that grace is dispensed to the people of God only by a cleric, preferably a priest. Thousands of priests are not like that. But thousands are.
By Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
Dr. Zagano will be a featured speaker at Voice of the Faithful’s 2020 Conference: Visions of a Just Church, Oct. 3, 2020, Boston Marriott Newton Hotel.
This is the third consecutive year VOTF has studied U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency.
Catholics in the icy north of Anchorage, Alaska, know the warmth of financial transparency in their local church, while Catholics in tropical St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, are getting the cold shoulder.
“Those two dioceses represent the polar opposites of this year’s financial transparency survey of American dioceses compiled by Voice of the Faithful. The Anchorage Archdiocese rated a perfect 100 score, while the St. Thomas Diocese rated the lowest, at 14 points. A total of 177 dioceses were rated.
“‘It’s a tale of two churches,’ said Margaret Roylance, a Voice of the Faithful trustee and chair of the organization’s Finance Working Group, announcing the results of this year’s survey at the group’s annual conference here Oct. 19.”
By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
The Catholic Church in Australia on Friday said that obligatory celibacy may have contributed to priests abusing children, and recommended that clergy should be given ‘psychosexual’ training.
“In a landmark report, an Australian Catholic Church body dealing with the legacy of child sex abuse added that some church institutions and their leaders turned a blind eye to what was going on for years.
“‘Obligatory celibacy may also have contributed to abuse in some circumstances,’ the Truth, Justice and Healing Council said.”
By CathNews.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.