Diocese lacks transparency in finances, report says

The Journal Gazette

January 28, 2018

By Rosa Salter Rodriguez

‘More susceptible’ to fraud

A new study of the finances of America’s Roman Catholic dioceses finds that, when it comes to openness, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend lands in the bottom half of the ecclesiastical units.

The ranking, the study’s authors say, should be “certainly cause for concern” by people in the pews, according to “Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency” done by Voice of the Faithful, a laity-led church reform group.

“Absent clear and accessible financial reports … the donated funds are more susceptible to fraudulent diversions,” the study concludes. “Every Catholic shares in the responsibility to ensure that funds donated for church work actually go toward those purposes.”

But a spokeswoman for the local diocese said the study’s concerns may be misplaced because of steps the diocese takes to provide financial information to members.

Conducted last summer and published last month, the study comes at a time when the handling of finances by churches is under increased scrutiny from those within and outside sanctuary walls.

Prompting concern are reports of embezzlement and lavish lifestyles by leaders and changing expectations about openness from church members, according to The Church Transparency Project website at www.churchtransparency.org.

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