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Press Release - FINANCE COUNCILS NECESSARY FOR ACCOUNTABILITY

Contact: Jessica Lillie Ciccone, votfpr@votf.org, (781) 559-3360, (314) 749-5188 cell

For Immediate Release
FINANCE COUNCILS NECESSARY FOR ACCOUNTABILITY
New Stories of Embezzlement Underscore Need for Parish Finance Councils

June 23, 2010-Boston – The latest report about embezzlement of Catholic Church funds comes from Waterbury, Connecticut, where a parish pastor is now being investigated for the embezzlement of nearly $1 million of parish funds. The parishioners say they are in shock. But their shock could have been avoided if a functional, independent parish finance council, as required by canon law, had been in place at Sacred Heart–Sagrado Corazon.

Dioceses across the United States are mandated by canon law to implement such finance councils. Information about Canon Law 537 can be easily found on many parish websites as well the website of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops. But the Archdiocese of Hartford provides no such information and Sacred Heart–Sagrado Corazon Parish also failed to submit annual reports. The Archdiocese of Hartford has itself not published a public annual report since the 1980s.

Voice of the Faithful has long advocated for transparent appointment and reporting from parish finance councils, including in the Hartford archdiocese. “We met with then-Archbishop Daniel Cronin in 2002-2003 and identified the lack of finance councils as a problem,” says Jayne O’Donnell from West Hartford. “We even offered to help him establish finance councils and pastoral councils in the parishes but he refused. Now the parishioners in Waterbury face major problems. It could have all been avoided. Parishes in the diocese—and in others as well—should be surveyed and then monitored by the diocese to ensure they are in compliance with canon law and providing independent reports to their parishioners.”

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For more information about VOTF please visit www.votf.org or email Jessica at votfpr@votf.org or call 781-552-3360.

Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) is a lay organization formed in 2002 in response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. It started in the basement of a church in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and has since expanded worldwide with 30,000 members and affiliates across the world.