Hartford Archdiocese Given Poor Grade for Financial Transparency
By Ken Byron
November 16, 2017
A watchdog group has rated the Archdiocese of Hartford as one of the worst in the country for how much financial information it posts online in a just-released nationwide study of the Catholic Church.
The study, done by the international watchdog group Voice of the Faithful, said the archdiocese in Hartford did not do things that should be routine, like posting audited financial statements and information on the weekly collections that are a key source of church revenue. The study was done over the summer and covered 177 dioceses and archdioceses throughout the U.S. Voice of the Faithful, which focuses on the Catholic Church, announced the results of its survey on Thursday.
Hartford scored 17 points out of a possible 60 on a 10-question survey. That puts Hartford third from the bottom out of the 32 archdioceses in the survey, above Portland, Ore., and Mobile, Ala. The survey looked at dioceses as well. The Diocese of Bridgeport received a score of 55, and the Diocese of Norwich got a 19, according to an overview of the survey.
Archdiocese officials could not be reached for comment on Thursday. Voice of the Faithful spokesman Nick Ingala said there are easy fixes for a low score.
“It’s pretty simple,” Ingala said. “Most non-profits and corporations make financial statements readily available on their websites. That is what we would like to see archdioceses and dioceses do, and also publish guidelines for parish collections. Most of the church’s money comes from parishioners’ donations and they have a right to know where their money is going.”
Voice of the Faithful officials said the amount of financial information church leaders put online can show that strong financial controls are in place to prevent theft. They said greater financial accountability is also in line with goals Pope Francis has set for the church.
Hartford was not alone in earning a low score on the survey; the average score was 36 out of 60
“The working group’s review of all 177 U.S. diocesan websites shows a level of openness well below what could be reasonably expected of an organization anywhere near the size of the U.S. Catholic Church,” Voice of the Faithful said in a statement.
The study focused only on information available online and did not go into why some dioceses and archdioceses did well while others did not.
“If a parishioner wants to find out how their money is being spent, the first place they will go to is the web, and every archdiocese has a website,” Ingala said.
The Voice of the Faithful’s study group assessed each website using 10 criteria. Those included whether or not any financial data can be found within a few minutes; if audited financial statements and parish assessments are posted or reported in some other way that is accessible, and if weekly collection and counting procedures are posted. The Archdiocese of Hartford scored at or near the top in four of the 10 questions but received a score of zero for the other six.