Archbishop Chaput Addresses Financial Transparency


March 21, 2012

ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT’S WEEKLY COLUMN:
THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH AND THE IMPORTANCE OF LAY ACTION

In the next few months, at my request, the Catholic Standard and Times will publish a report on the financial condition of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, including its offices, ministry programs and many of its related agencies and non-profit corporations.

Too often we think of the Church as an institution, and institutions are hard to love. The structures of Catholic life are required by canon and civil law, and they’re important. But they’re also secondary. At her heart, the Church is a family, a community of believers. Like any family, her members have mutual obligations of respect and accountability. This has practical consequences. We ask our people to be generous. As a result, they have a right to know that their resources, which the Church holds in trust for them, are used properly.

To put it another way: We can’t be confident about the future; we can’t even begin to solve our problems; unless we’re well informed. Much of this year’s financial information will be new. Some of it will be quite sobering. Nonetheless, beginning this year and every year in the future, we will provide to our people as full a picture of our financial life as a Church as we reasonably can.

Part of my accountability as a bishop involves seeking the advice of skilled, prudent people. In the life of the Church, advisory bodies exist for a purpose. They have a duty to be faithful to the Church and her teachings, but if they simply say what they think the pastor or bishop wants to hear, they fail in their mission. They have a responsibility to offer honest counsel based on their experience and on proper access to good information.

The Archdiocesan Priests’ Council (along with the College of Consultors) brings together experienced priests from around our local Church to share in the bishop’s decision-making. These men share in the priesthood with their bishop, they lead our local parishes, and they have uniquely important experience of the problems and opportunities in Catholic life at the grassroots level.

Likewise the Archdiocesan Finance Council should gather together the best Catholic professionals in business and finance from the Philadelphia region to help the Church steward her people’s resources. Again, the resources of the Church belong to her people, not to the clergy and not to some impersonal monolith. They come from the sweat and sacrifices of generations of Catholics who came before us. The Church holds these resources in trust for the whole Catholic community to carry out the ministries and apostolic works that the Gospel calls all of us to pursue.

The Church requires that every diocese must have a council of priests, a College of Consultors and a finance council. But she also recommends another key advisory body: a diocese-wide pastoral council composed mainly of laypeople and focused on the pastoral issues facing the Catholic community.

Philadelphia’s Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (APC) has been planned for some years, with important groundwork done by Dr. Robert Miller of our archdiocesan research staff and Auxiliary Bishop John McIntyre. Last month, on February 25, their work bore fruit in the first ever meeting of the Pastoral Council of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The meeting began with Mass, and work continued throughout the day. Council sessions included briefings on the legal and financial issues facing the archdiocese; the future of Catholic education in the Philadelphia region; and an overview of our efforts to deal with issues of sexual abuse and to preclude such incidents in the future.

Going forward, APC meetings will occur quarterly. Remaining 2012 dates include May 5, September 8 and December 15. In practice, the council should be a local snapshot of the whole People of God. In Philadelphia, that means it will always include at least one priest, one permanent deacon and one religious. But the rest of the roughly 30 members are laypeople from every walk of life and region in the archdiocese. This makes sense, since the Church is overwhelmingly lay in her membership, and – especially today — laypeople must play a vital role in advancing the work of the Gospel. I select APC members from candidates nominated by their pastors through the local deaneries. I also reserve a number of at-large appointments to myself to ensure a balance in gender, age, ethnicity and experience.

Service on the council follows four simple rules: fidelity to Catholic teaching; charity; mutual respect; and candor. Members do not “represent” any constituency but themselves. Their great value to the bishop lies in bringing their personal life experience to the honest discussion of pastoral issues facing our Church.

Over the past six months, I’ve written several times about the hard challenges that lie ahead for our Church. But it won’t always be so. To borrow a thought from Francis of Assisi, God has given us too many good people in our archdiocese — clergy, laypersons and religious — to fail if we work together to “repair [God’s] house.”

Things like a financial report and an Archdiocesan Pastoral Council are a beginning. More will come.

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69 Responses to “Archbishop Chaput Addresses Financial Transparency”

  1. Chaput,

    Really?

    Keep it up. Verging on 100% ineffectual.

    • get a shovel…Why should we have to repair the damage his types did to God’s house? …So there’s going to be a financial report and a quarterly council of puppets meeting…what a major breakthrough ..

    • It really is mind boggling. Good news laity will finally have representation ..better news we have chosen who will represent you. What other organization functions this way. In my area recently there was a lot of upheaval with the local school board and the community was out in force organizing grass root campaigns,write in candidates etc…. It doesn’t mean everyone was happy with the results but at least they played a part in the process. Even look at universities with student government associations that act as liasons/reps between students and university admin- they are elected by the students.

      • …We deplore this tyrannical nonsense, because Democracy is in our DNA. It’s the only way we know how to live. They foolishly underestimate this.

        Chaput drove home the fact that the council members will not be representing their parishes or deaneries. They represent no constituents, and we have no representation at those meetings… Same old stuff.

      • It’s so sad to realize we have been generationally brain washed. Now that we KNOW, we must be able to “not buy into their evil drivel”. It’s so hard on the older people. I’m glad we left when I was younger(72), ten yrs ago,

        The one scripture that the LORD has given me is ;”The Lord has not given me a spirit of fear but of POWER, LOVE AND A SOUND MIND.” I’VE KEPT THAT IN MY HEART, SO THEY CAN’T TRY AND TRANS FORM ME AGAIN WITH THEIR INTELLECTUAL (faux spiritual )LIES. “Sweet Talkers”, especially Chaput, being an Indian, he knows how to get the people to believe in the CHIEF.I live in Colo. so I know what how he operates.

        Now if the Lord can convince those , who are still going to the rcc, ’cause of their children and maybe wives or husbands that may have converted, to realize, what an “evil empire” this place is( that we have found out about ten yrs ago) ,God will get them on Jesus’ band wagon, for the abused and into The Word of Almighty God…..to renew them all. This is my prayer.

        God knows there’s nothing like getting Christians away from the rcc … Once they have left “say , they can’t believe what they missed by not KNOWING God’s Word”.. They say the rcc gave them nothing but rote stuff and guilt. They now have “The Joy of the Lord as their strength” .”They rejoice and are glad.”..That’s what we want for all our children and most especially,our precious vunerble” the Spiritually Murdered”, by the rcc’s evil clerical system. . Amen???

  2. S. Reid Warren, III Reply March 21, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    From outside The Church it is difficult for me to find Archbishop Chaput credible in what he says. He speaks of The Church as Family but The Family is male dominated by the Vatican. Families that are successful have respect for and representation for the contributions of women. He refers to The Church as She, but it is run by men – priests, bishops, cardinals, and the Vatican. When will there be a recognition and an admission that it is the men in The Church who have caused the multiple problems – only the men? This issue is never addressed, and until it is, it will be business as usual.

    Reid

  3. This is just a beginning. If they are really going to be forthcoming about finances I welcome it.

    • Nancy, Jason Beryy in Render Unto Rome on pages 12 and 13 in a piece entitled ‘Financial Accountability’ speaks to these issues.

      He makes the point that ‘ the bishops are under no obligation to produce profit and loss statements for stockholders or the IRS.’

      He goes on to note that many dioceses now post financial statements on their web page. He then tells you what the many limitations of such ‘statements’ are.

      His bottom line is that unless these financial statements are audited by a CPA firm, with ALL the data necessary for such an audit, they are less than wonderful.

      Three ADs out of 194 have presented such ‘credible’ data. They are, Boston, LA and Kalamazoo, Michigan.

      • A bit more on Jason Berry, Render Unto Rome, 2011, page 13.

        “A CPA firm will not provide an audit report without all of the figures for a statement. Ruhl credits the Archdioceses of Boston and Los Angeles, and the Kalamazoo, Michigan for posting audited statements.” ( this 3 out of 194 diocese).

        Berry goes on to say that a ‘review’ commonly masking as a full financial statement is ‘substantially less in scope than an audit.’ That’s how the Chicago AD releases info.

        No assurance is provided by financial statements THAT HAVE NOT BEEN AUDITED, by a CPA firm! Do not be misled by financial statements that have been ‘COMPILED’ by a firm…’A compilation just requires the CPA to look for obvious errors. An example is the AD of New Orleans. The numbers may or may not be close.

        Berry then goes on to note that Atlanta, Austin, Arlington, and Anchorage have audited statements that DO NOT INCLUDE THE PARISHES!…Austin states that it’s parishes and other agencies have been separately incorporated. (to shield them from abuse claims).

        “Finally, there are financial statements that are not even accompanied by a compilation report. Somebody has just put some numbers together. An example of that is the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. “

  4. “…..Service on the council follows four simple rules: fidelity to Catholic teaching; charity; mutual respect; and candor. Members do not “represent” any constituency but themselves….”

    A number of troubling words here………….”constituency”………Seems like the Archbishop looks on the “internal matters” within the Church as political. One wonders where he got that idea? In Denver? Would the lobbyists in Harrisburg be part of Archbishop Chaput’s “constituency”?

    The other word of importance and concern…….”candor”……..It is a “two-way” street, don’t you know. There needs to be “candor” on both sides of the table. As a matter of fact, some “mutual respect” from archdiocesan leadership in their relationships with the Philadelphia faithful is long overdue.

    • Like you Michael, I’m wondering what does the Archbishop mean when he states, “members do not ‘represent’ and constituency but themselves.”

      Hmmmm…..he probably means he doesn’t want people with their own agendas on the council, okay, then who and what does the Archbishop represent? Does he really think individuals come to a group without any of their own priorities, convictions, experiences, beliefs and passions? Sorry but I don’t see people as ‘blank slates’, we all have our own causes, be they expressed or unexpressed. If he fails to realize the passions some in his archdiocese feel about a whole host of issues then he will soon dismiss them as contrarian, rebellious and divisive. Unless he has the patience and willingness to explore the deeper issues that some may hold then he misses the boat completely…so it’s back to back to square one, his mantra may well be “if they’re not with us or they disagree with us, then they need to leave the Catholic Church.” Finally, they sure do represent at least one constituency that I know of, it’s called the Catholic Church.

      • If they don’t have any of our survivors on board that council………..they have learned nothing……………

      • Leo,
        I’m completely guessing here…but maybe Chaput meant the people chosen were not “spokespeople” for the parish they attend. Meaning they speak for and represent themselves…they aren’t speaking for all the parishioners of the church they attend?

        That’s how I read it.

  5. I’d like to see Susan Matthews on the Council.

    • I was thinking that. Do we have any good catholics ………..go to church, help with parish that also support the law changes and helping survivors on that council? That is what we need.

    • Kris and Beth, actually Susan was nominated or her name was thrown in the ring or whatever the process . I am thinking Susan having a constituency of angry betrayed Catholics,parents demanding child protections and victims seeking justice ,deemed her ineligible for a seat at the table. That and the fact that she asks excellent
      questions 🙂

    • It doesn’t matter that we want to see Susan on the Council. According to Chaput’s letter, it’s the parish priests and the bishop who determine the APC members.

      Same old same old…

  6. As a west coaster I can’t believe there was no Pastoral council and that it will take ‘ the next few months’ to bring forth a financial accounting. Why not show us the non profit tax return due 4-15-12 .. like we all have to do?

  7. Just what the church needs…another hand-picked council…just like their review board?

    Ugh.

    My favorite line, “Nonetheless, beginning this year and every year in the future, we will provide to our people as full a picture of our financial life as a Church as we reasonably can.”

    I’ll translate for the people who don’t understand bishop-eze: “We’ll tell you what we want to tell you and nothing more. Same as before.”

    There is so much fluff and puff to his writing, it’s a wonder anyone takes him seriously.

    God help the people who read it and believe it.

  8. Another favorite, “The Church holds these resources in trust for the whole Catholic community to carry out the ministries and apostolic works that the Gospel calls all of us to pursue.”

    Like legal defense teams? Like prayer and penance houses for all the pedophiles?

    Cut out the middle man and donate directly to your charities!!!! These people do not manage your money well. They use it to hide criminals and pay legal defense teams to save their behinds from the clink.

    • If Chaput is sincere about financial transparency, then the legal teams expenses and prayer and penance “retirement” houses and living expenses will be reflected in the numbers. Watch for it.

      If I were a betting person, I would wager that no one will ever really “know” those numbers either. That’s for the secret archives along with the master list of “liabilities.”

      Smoke and mirrors…

      The AD is on fire with the trial coming up and he puts out a column about finances and a pseudo-transparency/accountability tactic? Look over here…pay no attention to that man (Lynn) behind the curtain.

      This isn’t funny, but I can’t stop laughing at the ridiculousness of this.

      • SW, I would hazard a guess that the prayer and penance costs will be lumped into ‘retired priests costs’ and they will all be lumped together under a Catholic Charities, Catholic Appeal banner. Want to bet?

      • AND, legal defense costs will be subsumed under the banner of ‘Administration’.

    • survivors wife, I also see it as a way to fire up the laity when the SOL battle heats up…they are taking your money..not our money..it is your money these victims are after.

  9. Some questions that will never be answered. How much money has the AD spent on defending Lynn and how much are they paying a high priced legal dream team to protect their interests. “Their” interests not my interests.

    • I totally agree. I would have him plead guilty and open all files save alot of time, money and suffering ……….

  10. I believe chaput can talk a cat off of a fish truck !

  11. I couldn’t help but by hit by this line,”…an overview of our efforts to deal with issues of sexual abuse and to preclude such incidents in the future.” How about precluding the incidents of COVERING UP the sexual abuse? There are 2 parts to this problem….the abuse and the massive cover-up.

    • Which I would be very interested how many council members are survivors. We need them on the board because they know the truth.

  12. “Part of my accountability as a bishop involves seeking the advice of skilled, prudent people”.

    The Archbishop may be making a start in the right direction, but a full disclosure of the financial practices that put us in our current predicament would be a far better step. True transparency consists of a summary disclosure of past practices to current financial realities. Speaking from a “prudent” financial standpoint, “prudent advice” would demand at a minimum a comprehensive examination of assets, liabilities, and financial standards of practice.

    The Philadelphia Diocese has been the recipient of endowments, grants, and contributions from wealthy individuals, corporations, alumni groups and the general laity for generations, where exactly did all this money go? And who spent it?

  13. Its interesting that this comes out on the same day that the Boston Herald breaks the news that the Boston Catholic church paid 17 of its employees over $150,000 a year. See http://bit.ly/GEsSHq

    Of course, they continue to hide everything that they can hide, and they do say that Cardinal O’Malley only makes $41,000 per year plus $14,000 non-taxable compensation.

    What they hide, of course, is that all of his expense are paid, including housing, food, transportation, clothes, retirement, et cetera.

    My favorite are the first class tickets to Rome to see the pope, or first class tickets to Ireland or someplace else to be there while they explain why they hid their rampant child sex abuse. I just checked the price of a 14 day advance first class ticket from Boston to Rome, and its $6,300.

    Anyone know if Jesus flew first class?

  14. Kathy, I think you have the right of it.

    If it is like the BS people ‘chosen’ to host the meeting that St. Joe’s put together to address Lynn’s arrest and the sex scandal last year, it WILL be a joke. Solutions using corporate trainers/puppets, games with m & m’s….., now some kind of promise of financial tranparency? Please. They think we are idiots.

  15. Was the timing of the Bishop’s announcement about transparency just before the beginning of the big Lynn et al trial on March 26 a coincidence or was it made to stir up some support for the AD? Also, is the archdiocesan rally for “religious freedom” at Independence Hall this friday, the 23rd, another diversionary tactic? I think they may be trying very hard to build up some support and sympathy before all the bad news starts to gush out at the trial.

    As good as the transparency seems to sound, I wonder about Chaput’s motives. It would be great to know that the monthly vigils at diocesan headquarters were finally taken seriously.
    Is all this, including putting the bishop’s mansion up for sale, being done at the advice of the legal team to quiet the faithful somewhat? Time will surely tell.

    • Irene with leadship lying for so long it is just common snese not to trust them. Maybe one day they can restore trust but not in my lifetime. Trust is very fragile it can be destroyed in an instant and take years to restore if ever……………

  16. This paragraph from Archbishop Chaput’s letter summarizes the essential problem at the core of the Catholic Church :

    In the life of the Church, advisory bodies exist for a purpose. They have a duty to be faithful to the Church and her teachings, but if they simply say what they think the pastor or bishop wants to hear, they fail in their mission. They have a responsibility to offer honest counsel based on their experience and on proper access to good information.

    My experience in Parish Life of the Church has been that when asked to sit on these counsels ; providing honest counsel for the good of the parish has been rejected. Feedback is neither listended to or responded to if it is not what leadership wants to hear. Thoughtful insights and suggestions are completley ignored. Eventually those who speak up are removed from the counsels. Sadly, I see in so many anger and energy fading with each passing day. An attitude of apathy is taking over…you get tired fighting after a while. I believe that if true collaboration and interaction with involved dedicated lay and religious (including and especially women) had been taking place in our Church, it would not be in the situation it is today.

  17. Face it folks. We’re asking a patriarchal, medieval and corrupt institution to play and behave according to 21st century, ethical standards. With all its entrenched and ingrained “character traits” firmly in place, it comes to the table with a “good faith-deal.” Word after word, it is unrecognizable to us. What??? From what planet do you hail? Excuse me, but we’re normal, informed, hard-working, passionate and dedicated human beings. And you? Conspiring and inept aliens, sporting facial smirks.

    Do not trust this institution! Until the priesthood is reformed, it is not fit for human consumption.

  18. From where I sit, they are just laying the groundwork for declaring bankruptcy like other diocese have done. It wasn’t that long ago that Wilmington Diocese declared bankruptcy just as the trial was about to begin regarding their abuse scandal.

    Chaput started with the somber message a few months ago that there would be Big Changes. We’ve seen the schools close. Now here comes the financial “transparency”. Soon most likely it will be parishes merging. (They’ve learned to call it “merging” now.. it sounds much nicer than “closing”) Now it’s time to pull the laity in on the process so we can pass the buck when it comes down to who made the decisions. It was the Blue Ribbon Commission who made the suggestions regarding the schools. Here in NJ, it was the committees from both schools and parishes that were credited for changes made here.. funny though how none of us recognized any of the suggestions that were implemented.

    They all work from the same playbook. It is so disheartening. It also gives a new meaning to the word tranparency.

    • mimzyb, so well put..So it’s, “Gather a committee of all-too-willing helpers, stroke their egos, then make them do the dirty work and take the fall.” It’s mentioned here that council members’ backgrounds can be found online…anyone know where?
      Think these council members already know how they’re being used to shift the blame for the bad news ahead…?— Maybe when the the thrill of being chosen above the other brownies wears off, it’ll dawn on them and they’ll get angry…?

  19. since he is talking finances will he say how much and where the money is coming from to pay for the lawyers and other legal fees?i think they keep saying insurance covers it.thats what i tell my father when he asks me where the money is coming from to pay for the assisted living home that he is living in!

  20. I’d like to pick up on the second paragraph, the Catholic
    family, structured by by civil and canon law and important and I couldn’t agree more. It’s the implemting of Canon Law [1139]. “Illegitimate children are legitimated by the subsequent marriage of their parents, whether valid or putative, by a rescript of the Holy See”. Yet when such a request is made it is denied due to the evident cause for scandal, not withstanding, the spurious brother/sister arrangement sanctified, to preserve the priesthood/francican image is acceptable.
    Ultimately forcing the “Catholic family unit”, to a life of subtefuge deceiving the faithful and living a lie.
    It all counts in the scheme of things and the attitide towards transaparency, not only in America, but universally.

  21. A review of the professional backgrounds, careers and positions of those on the Pastoral Council of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is very revealing. Does the Archbishop really believe that the persons on the pastoral council truly reflect a representative cross-section of the faithful in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia?

    I ask that other posters on this site do some investigating on their own via the Internet and you too will be disheartened, but certainly not surprised, how the “deck has been stacked” re the makeup of the Pastoral Council of the Archdiocese.

    I thought I just read an article from the Archbishop today on catholicphilly.com wherein he spoke of candor and mutual respect between the faithful and Church leadership. If this is the first instance of candor and mutual respect (i.e., the makeup of the Pastoral Council), then the faithful can certainly be assured….”the more things change, the more things remain the same.”

  22. How much longer will we wait before the Leaders of the Church of Rome face full legal accountability? Before we hold them Criminally Responsible for the full extent of their Illicit Activities? Is there even a single instance, anywhere, that a public school teacher had sex with a student and was transferred by School Administrators from LA to Phillie, or from San Francisco to South America; from Poland to Massachusetts; or from Italy to Illinois, or even within the same city? Is there any other corporation anywhere in the world that we would permit to continue with the kind of ONGOING Criminal Activity epidemic in the Church of the Roman Empire, and permit to remain as part of our community? Why do we put up with it? Because a bunch of brain-washed brain-dead zombies want to hold onto fake stories of Mary appearing somewhere? “I love the scent of incense in the morning. It’s the smell of raw political power.” “Anybody that doesn’t think there is widespread sexual abuse within the Catholic Church is living on another planet.”

    • Mark,
      Sadly, yes….there are teachers who have been passed on to other schools.

      I want the administrators who knew of “boundary issues” to be held accountable as well. I’m not sure I would categorize it as “conspiracy,” but true ignorance and indifference to children outside of their jurisdiction, which is just as horrible.

      • SW- i so agree.. administrators and teachers helped enable and perpetuate the abuse by staying at their jobs. So unethical! They sensed and oftentimes knew that children were being violated and nothing serious was ever done about it. They tolerated the deal and cashed their paychecks year after year.

  23. S. Reid Warren, III Reply March 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    “The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out.” Thomas Babington Macaulay
    “The most useful thing about a principle is that it can always be sacrificed to experiency.” W. Somerset Maugham
    “We grow with the years more fragile in body, but morally stouter, and can throw off the chill of a bad conscience almost at once.” Logan Pearsall Smith
    “Waste no more tijme arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” Marcus Aurelius
    “I hate mankind, for I think myself one of the best of them, and I know how bad I am.” Joseph Baretti

    Reid

    • I love those Reid.

      • S. Reid Warren, III Reply March 22, 2012 at 10:16 pm

        Beth,

        They come from a quirky magazine called The Sun – the back page entitled SUNBEAMS. The mag. carries articles about faith issues, poverty and exploitation, poems and personal letters regarding a human issues in whih the writers sometimes share their hearts and their souls. A good bit of it is very touching.

        Reid

  24. Truth is what keeps me sane.The Archdiocese leadership have robbed the survivors of their trust for the church and many laity their peace of mind……….how do you plan on restoring this Archbishop Chaput when your actions are not always congruent with what you say? Please stop lobbying against law changes…….. they will protect our children. Turn over the files and clean house. That is the only way to restore trust………though it will be painful it is nothing compared to the pain of the survivors and it will lead to the saving of many souls.

  25. RE: Archdiocesan Finances – Frankly,it’s about time. this is actually good and almost encouraging news. it’s a step in the right direction. I’ve heard rumors about Chaput doing a housecleaning at the archdiocese hq too.

    re: proposed law – I’m for it only if it covers all institutions, not just the church. if it was pointed just towards the church that would be a non starter and I gotta believe unconstitutional

  26. I agree with the person above who said that this board will be the scapegoat for any unpleasant financial decisions Chaput has to make, such as school and parish closings. Another thing to watch for is how willing this Vatican toady will be to embrace a decision this group makes that goes against his wishes– assuming there are any independent voices on this panel who are most likely hand-picked sycophants. I know of no instance where a prelate or priest has let a mere layman (much less a mere laywoman) tell him what to do.

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