Posts Tagged U.S. dioceses

As anger over Catholic clergy sexual abuse intensifies, U.S. dioceses’ average financial transparency score rises only marginally

BOSTON, Mass., Nov. 1, 2018― Anger over clergy sexual abuse has risen dramatically with new revelations in recent months, and Voice of the Faithful’s second annual study of U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency, released in October, shows the average score for those dioceses rising only marginally. Voice of the Faithful has long considered secrecy surrounding Catholic Church finances to be linked to secrecy surrounding clerical sexual abuse.

The average overall score achieved by all 177 dioceses comprising the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Voice of the Faithful’s “Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency: 2018” was 39.7 out of 60, or 66 percent, which represents a 5 percent increase over the 2017 average score. Thirty-nine percent of dioceses still have not posted audited financial statements on their websites, and 25 percent do not post a financial report of any kind.

Much of the recent anger over clergy abuse is invested in the secrecy surrounding the abuse. “Carrying out a widespread coverup of criminal acts without access to large amounts of untraceable money is impossible,” said Margaret Roylance, Ph.D., a VOTF trustee and Finance Working Group chair.

“In the wake of ongoing revelations about clerical sexual abuse,” she continued, “every Catholic who loves the Church is justly angry and asking serious questions about our Church leadership. This report is one tool in the hands of faithful Catholics who want to know what each of us can do. Genuine financial transparency will be essential in rebuilding U.S. Catholics’ trust in their bishops.”

Roylance continued to point out that:

  • If your diocese does not post its audited financial statement or, worse, not even an unaudited financial report, your diocesan leadership is being less than forthright about its finances.
  • If your diocese does not mandate safe collection procedures, it is failing in its duty to protect the resources you have provided to them.
  • If the names and backgrounds of your Diocesan Finance Council members cannot be found on your diocesan website, you have no way of knowing if they are “truly expert in financial affairs and civil law, outstanding in integrity,” as Canon Law requires.

“We must let our bishops know if their failures of financial transparency prevent us from fulfilling our obligations as good stewards of the gifts God has given us,” she said.

Although the transparency scores of 21 dioceses in the 2018 study dropped from 2017, more than 70 had higher scores and some achieved very significant increases. The Archdiocese of Omaha went from a dismal 26 to 56, and the Diocese of Orlando from 26 to a perfect score of 60, which tied with the Diocese of Burlington. However, Burlington received a qualified opinion from outside auditors, whereas Orlando received an unqualified (good) opinion on its audit. The Diocese of Santa Rosa was the only one of the 177 to post highlights of their Finance Council meetings—another significant factor in diocesan financial transparency.

The highest scoring dioceses in VOTF’s 2018 study are:

  • Burlington, Vermont, and Orlando, Florida, tied at 60
  • Atlanta, Georgia, Baltimore, Maryland, and Sacramento, California, tied at 59
  • Bismarck, North Dakota, Bridgeport, Connecticut, Buffalo, New York, Des Moines, Iowa, Ft. Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Omaha, Nebraska, and San Diego, California, tied at 56

The lowest scoring dioceses in VOTF’s 2018 study are:

  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Orange, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, tied at 19
  • Salina, Kansas, 18
  • Brownsville, Texas, Knoxville, Tennessee, Lubbock, Texas, Portland, Oregon, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, 15
  • Grand Isle, Nebraska, 13
  • Thomas, Virgin Islands, 12

Voice of the Faithful News Release, Nov. 1, 2018
Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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U.S. Catholic bishops release annual abuse report

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released its 2015 annual audit report on the implementation of its Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People this past Friday, May 20, 2016. The report was not entirely complimentary of the Church’s efforts:

Audit of U.S. Catholic church shows sharp spike in sex abuse reports

By Scott Malone, Reuters

“Annual audit of reports of sexual abuse by members of the U.S. Roman Catholic clergy released on Friday (May 20) showed sharp increases in the number of new claims and in the value of settlements to victims.”

Annual report shows continued toll of clergy sex abuse crisis

By Matt Rocheleau, The Boston Globe

“The Catholic church paid $153 million in the United States last year to settle lawsuits, and fielded hundreds of new accusations, as fallout continued form the clergy sex abuse scandal exposed in the early 2000s, a new report from church leaders says.”

USCCB abuse audit warns of complacency, cites ‘room for improvement’

By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service

“The annual report on the implementation of the U.S. bishops’ ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People’ warns against complacency in dioceses, and the firm contracted to conduct audits of dioceses and parishes said there was ‘plenty of room for improvement’ in implementing two of the charter’s articles.”

Bishops’ conference releases 2015 abuse audit report

By Dennis Coday, National Catholic Reporter

“The U.S. bishops’ conference released this morning (May 20) its 13th Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The report, which covers the period July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015, is really two reports in one …”

Number of U.S. priests accused of sexually abusing children and numbers of persons alleging abuse

Compiled by BishopAccountability.org

“As of May 20, 2016, information published by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) indicates that the conference has counted 6,528 clerics ‘not implausibly’ and ‘credibly’ accused of sexually abusing minors in the period 1950 through June 30, 2015, with several gaps. Out of a total of 116,153 priests who have worked in those years, this latest number represents 5.6% of the priests.

“This interim number is instructive. As recently as November 2002, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then in charge of all abuse cases for the Vatican, said in an interview that in the United States ‘less that 1% of priests are guilty of acts of this type.’ Meanwhile, in the few U.S. dioceses where investigations or disclosures have provided adequate data, including Boston, we are seeing rates as high as 10%. If that is ultimately found to be the percentage nationally, the total would rise to 11,615 priests accused of abuse.”

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Lay Catholics in Just Over A Third of U.S. Dioceses Were Given Opportunity to Answer Family Synod Questionnaire / National Catholic Reporter

Lay Catholics who were given the chance to respond to a Vatican questionnaire on family-related issues greeted the opportunity with relish, but it may be that laypeople in just over a third of the nearly 200 Catholic dioceses in the U.S. were given that opportunity …

NCR (National Catholic Reporter) found 78 dioceses with clear, easily accessible information about what the survey was and how Catholics could participate, either through online surveys, direct consultations (a bishop in Alaska hosted a town hall meeting) or parish input. Some bishops announced they would be consulting priest councils or other diocesan structures to gather responses to the questionnaire.”

By Michael O’Loughlin, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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