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Parish finance reporting

Q. I belong to a Catholic community in Florida that has been in existence for 32 years. For all that time, we have had only one pastor. The problem is that we have never seen a parish financial report, and I have been told that our parish's weekly income averages $30,000.


I approached the pastor last year about this (at the request of several parishioners), and he told me that the finance committee would present a quarterly report — but we have yet to see that. What recourse do we have? (City of origin withheld)


A. The church's Code of Canon Law requires that each Catholic parish establish a finance council "to help the pastor in the administration of the goods of the parish" (Canon 537). So essentially, the church does mandate that lay parishioners be involved in overseeing budgets, contributions and expenditures on the parish level.


Additionally, Canon 1287.2 stipulates that parish administrators "are to render accounts to the faithful concerning the goods they have given to the church."


Many parishes — I would say most — fulfill that requirement by publishing an annual financial statement in the parish bulletin, and in 2007, the Accounting Practices Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recommended that parishes report to the bishop the date on which such information was made available to parishioners.


Your desire, then, for regular and public financial disclosure is clearly the preferred course. I would suggest that you recruit the several like-minded parishioners and pay a visit to your diocesan chancellor, asking him to "lean" a bit on your pastor.


Editor’s Note: According to Timothy R. Cotnoir, diocesan finance officer, every parish in the Diocese of Arlington files an annual report with the Finance Office and also provides it to the faithful. Many parish stewardship reports include financial information along with ministries, sacramentals, facilities and outreach information. The diocese reviews the parish annual report to the faithful as part of its internal audit procedures.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019