Suzette Martinez Standring: the Catholic Church and Financial Transparency
By Suzette Martinez Standring
December 7, 2017
Sunday collections and annual appeals: How transparent is your Catholic diocese or archdiocese? Do they post audited financial statements on their websites? How are cash donations protected from theft? Recent survey results make me feel as insecure as a basket of $20 bills in an empty room.
The national survey by Voice of the Faithful measured and ranked online financial transparency of 177 U.S. territorial dioceses and archdioceses by examining their websites for audited financial statements and weekly collection security practices. VOTF is a Catholic lay group founded in 2002 in response to the sex abuse crisis within the Catholic Church.
Answers to 10 objective survey questions were examined about arch/diocese website information:
-- Can financial data be found within a few to several minutes?
-- Is there a workable search function?
-- Are audited financial statements posted?
-- If not, is financial info reported in another format, e.g., booklet form?
-- Is the Bishop’s Annual Appeal explained somewhere on the website, and/or is it reported on the financial statements?
-- Is the annual parish assessment explained somewhere on the website, and/or is it reported on the financial statements?
-- Is contact info for the business office posted?
-- Is the finance council identified?
-- Are parish financial guidelines posted?
-- Are detailed collection and counting procedures posted?