Diocesan Financial Accountability

Financial accountability and transparency require attention for two critical reasons:

  • One, a lack of financial transparency at diocesan levels allowed the crimes of clerical sexual abuse to fester unnoticed for decades.
  • Two, without transparency we faithful, who provide all the funds for diocesan and parish good works, have no idea how our donations are spent or even if they are spent for the intended purposes.

Financial transparency and accountability thus become powerful pathways towards rebuilding lay trust in Church leadership, and since 2002 many dioceses have made significant progress in this regard.

But more can be done. Because bishops hold all legislative, executive and judicial authority within a diocese, it is only through adequate reporting and accountability that the faithful have an opportunity to discharge our own responsibilities to be good stewards of our Church.

In our Financial Transparency & Accountability work, VOTF promotes greater transparency in financial reporting, greater lay awareness of diocesan finances, and more lay involvement in Diocesan and Parish Finance Councils. We ask key questions: How often, and how clearly, does a bishop report on the finances of the diocese? Are those reports complete? Audited? Does each revenue center in the diocese report its finances, or only the central office?

VOTF collects answers to these questions, and more, for all U.S. dioceses and eparchies. When complete, our database will allow every Catholic to easily locate publicly available information about each diocese’s finances, how other dioceses report their own data … and which dioceses, despite canon law, fail to report their finances publicly and transparently.

Background & Additional Resources

Canon Law and Diocesan Finance Councils

Principles for Diocesan Finance Councils

Financial Accountability (one-page summary of initiative to foster financial transparency and accountability at diocesan level)

Financial Accountability & Transparency Project

Questionnaire for Accountability & Transparency Project