Diocese of Ossory is top of Transparency League
62% post no Financial Statements on their websites
A recent analysis by Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) in the USA showed that 34% of 177 dioceses did not include any financial information about their diocese on their websites. But our 26 Irish dioceses are far worse with 62% having no financial information on their websites!
Pope Francis has put a strong emphasis on financial reporting and transparency, though he has suffered several public reverses! Strangely enough, Canon Law does not require financial reporting by dioceses. But with all monies for the church raised by donations from all the people of God over many centuries, surely in the 21st century our dioceses should be publishing annual financial reports?
In Ireland the drive for financial reporting and transparency has come from the Charities Act (2009) and the Irish dioceses come under this act, as well as the UK Charities Acts 2008 and 2013. There are numerous Financial Statements in the Companies Office covering many dioceses, parishes and trusts. But in this day and age the website is the shop window for all organizations and that is where this information should be available in each diocese.
The VOTF analysis is based on 10 questions and the same questions were used to analyse the Irish dioceses. The questions and full table of analysis is attached in an Appendix.
|Table 1: Dioceses Transparency Scores|
|Diocese||Score||Audited Accounts on website|
|2||Down & Connor||32||Yes|
|5||Cork & Ross||27||No|
|11||Kildare & Leighlin||17||No|
|13||Cashel & Emly||15||No|
|15||Galway, Kilmacduagh & Kilfenora||15||No|
|17||Waterford & Lismore||15||No|
|23||Ardagh & Clonmacnoise||5||No|
Congratulations to Ossory who top the table with their audited 2016 Financial Statements available on their website. But it is disappointing to see Armagh in mid table, though we found a note on their website saying the proper publication of financial statements …. is a priority. Also disappointing is to see a large diocese like Meath at the bottom of the table.
It is of concern that only 5 of our 26 dioceses publish audited accounts on their websites. A further 5 publish some financial data. That still leaves 16 of our dioceses who provide no financial data on their websites. Is this back to the need-to-know thinking where the laity are routinely excluded from such information? The level of trust in our church institutions has declined dramatically in recent years. With the decline in male-only-celibate vocations the laity are being asked to take on many more roles in supporting our church. Surely the publication of audited Financial Statements is a basic requirement for rebuilding trust?
In summary the 2 main points are:
- Only 38% (10/26) posted some financial data on their websites. This compares with 66% for the USA.
- Only 58% identify the members of their Finance Committee on their websites. This compares to 49% in the USA.
We Are Church Ireland
|Table 2: The 10 Questions as used by VOTF||Score|
|(Maximum score = 60)|
|1||Can any financial data be found within a few to several minutes?||0 – 5|
|2||Is there a workable internal “search” function? Note: Deduct 3 points if present but not on homepage. Deduct 1 point if not on the other criteria pages.||0 – 5|
|3||Are audited financial statements posted? Note: Enter the latest year in “Notes.” Deduct 5 points if the latest statement is 1-2 yrs old, 10 points if 3-4 years old and 15 points if 5 or more years old.||0 – 15|
|4||If the answer to #3 is “No,” is financial info reported in another format, e.g., booklet form? Note: Score 0 if answer to #3 is “Yes.”||0 – 2|
|5||Annual Appeal Score: Is the appeal’s purpose explained somewhere on the website, and/or is it reported on the financial statements? Note: Deduct 5 points if neither is true.||0 – 5|
|6||Annual Assessments (cathedraticum) Is the cathedraticum explained somewhere on the website, and/or is it reported on the financial statements? Note: Deduct 5 points if neither is true.||0 – 5|
|7||Is contact info for the business office posted? Note: Deduct 2 points if only one name is posted and their contact info is shown.||0 – 5|
|8||Is the finance council identified? Note: Deduct 3 points if there are not 3 lay members. Deduct 1 point if credentials are not posted.||0 – 5|
|9||Are parish financial guidelines posted?||0 – 5|
|10||Are detailed collection & counting procedures posted? Note: Deduct 4 points for each “No” answer below.||0 – 10|
|Are serially numbered containers required?|
|Are three (3) or more counters required?|