Richmond Diocese Has Set Audits

By Alberta Lindsey
Times-Dispatch [Richmond VA]
January 12, 2007

Parishes and schools in the Catholic Diocese of Richmond receive an internal audit every three years.

The diocese has a full-time auditor and soon will hire a second, said Steve Neill, diocesan spokesman.

The audit program, part of the diocese's Office of Finance, was started by the Most Rev. Francis X. DiLorenzo, bishop since May 2003.

The auditor does an internal finance compliance audit of the diocese's 135 parishes and approximately 20 schools every three years, Neill said.

The diocese itself is audited each year, Neill said.

An audit by Cherry Bekaert & Hol- land,certified public accountants and consultants, and dated Aug. 18, found diocesan financial statements in order. The report is posted on the diocese's Web site, were raised about the safeguards to prevent fraud after a priest in the diocese was indicted on a charge of felony embezzlement by a Louisa County grand jury Monday. The Rev. Rodney L. Rodis, 50, is accused of embezzling more than $600,000 from St. Jude Catholic Church in Mineral and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Bumpass.

A recent study by Villanova University in Pennsylvania found that 85 percent of 78 respondents to a survey on internal financial controls in dioceses reported cases of embezzlement in the last five years.

In the study, 174 U.S. Catholic dioceses were sent questionnaires. Seventy-eight responded.

Since the survey was anonymous, it is not known if the Diocese of Richmond responded, said Charles Zech, director of Villanova's Center for the Study of Church Management and co-author of the 14-page report.

The survey found that internal control variables were significant in preventing embezzlement. Those dioceses with formal, written fraud policies experienced less embezzlement, presumably the result of better prevention. Such a policy shows employees that a diocese is serious about fraud and will prosecute those caught.

A second variable significant in detecting fraud was the frequency with which parishes submit financial data, the survey found. Frequent data collections increase the chance for detection, the report said.

Contact staff writer Alberta Lindsey at or (804) 649-6754.


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