The wife of a friend once quipped that there’s not much sizzle or romance in balancing a check book – but try feeding the kids if you can’t. I’ve never forgotten her words. No sensible adult goes very long without paying close attention to the finances of his or her own family. And for good reason: Without the necessary resources, no family survives. If a family has financial problems, it needs to know why. That requires accurate information, no matter how complex and sobering, so the problems can be fixed.
So it is with the Church. As I’ve said many times over the past 22 months, the resources of the Church don’t belong to the bishops or the clergy or some remote institution. They belong to her people. The Church is a steward. She holds her resources in trust for her people, to carry out their apostolic work as a community in furthering the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That means she has an obligation to use her resources well. She also has a duty to make an accurate yearly accounting to her people of how she manages those resources, whether the news is happy or not.
One of the many urgencies facing the Church when I arrived here in September 2011 was the need to understand and start fixing our financial problems. We’ve made progress. Over the past year, we’ve benefitted from strong, new financial leadership from our CFO, Timothy O’Shaughnessy; our controller, Peter Yecco; and a reinvigorated Archdiocesan Finance Council with talent from across the Catholic business community.
Despite every difficulty we have faced, our people have increased their giving to the annual Catholic Charities Appeal as well as the annual Seminary Appeal. And along with monies raised from the sale of the archbishop’s residence and a home on the New Jersey shore – beautiful properties, but unsuited to the needs of the Church today – we’ve taken big steps toward raising new resources and eventually eliminating our annual budget deficit.
This good news, however, will need to wait until later when we’ll publish the results of Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 – i.e., the year beginning July 1, 2012, and ending this weekend, on June 30, 2013.
In other words, the fiscal report we plan to publish next week will reflect almost none of the progress I just described. Why? Because it will show our financial results from July 1, 2011 – two months before I arrived in Philadelphia – through June 30, 2012, barely two months after our new financial team began their work.
I’ve asked our staff to make the report on FY 2012 as thorough and clear as possible. The audited financial statements for every major archdiocesan entity will appear on our website for public review. I’ve also directed that in the future, as we continue to improve our operations, our annual financial reports will appear for our people’s scrutiny far more promptly and with proper standards of transparency.
I’ve reviewed the FY 2012 audited financial statements for our central operations run through the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center; or more technically, the “Office for Financial Services.” While the results are serious – and that’s an understatement – they have the virtue of being honest and accurate. The statements also include several major adjustments to reporting made in previous years.
Most of the financial pain we now face as a local Church is inherited and due to chronic patterns of behavior. It has nothing to do with fraud or the abuse crisis. Instead it flows out of well-intentioned but poor management decisions made over a period of nearly two decades at every level of archdiocesan and parish leadership – a crippling habit of trying to hang on to the past and keep unsustainable ministries, schools and parishes afloat, despite great changes in our demographic and financial realities.
We have too many good people in the Archdiocese to let these problems continue to hobble our discipleship in the years ahead. We owe too much to the believers who came before us to fail in renewing the health of our Church. And we owe even more to the young people who will follow us. They need to encounter Jesus Christ through our witness. That’s why our financial problems matter so seriously. And that’s why, with honesty and hard work and the grace of God, we’ll resolve them.
We will post the audited financial statements for the Office for Financial Services on www.CatholicPhilly.com on Wednesday, July 3 at 10:00 a.m. Please note that these statements only relate to operations and ministries stemming from Archdiocesan headquarters. They do not include financials for the Office of Catholic Education, Catholic Healthcare Services, Catholic Social Services, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Catholic Charities Appeal or the Heritage of Faith—Vision of Hope Capital Campaign. Audited reports for those entities will be posted in the coming weeks.
Also note that none of these reports will include financial statements for parishes – and for good reason: All parishes are autonomous entities. The Archdiocese has no authority over their assets.
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I believe that Archbishop Chaput is doing a wonderful job and has to be commended for his honesty and humbleness and desire to bring out the spiritual importance of our Church.
There may be unpopular decisions being made but Archbishop Chaput is not here to win a popularity contest. He is here to help our Catholic Faith and Churches prosper for many years to come.
It is wonderful to have an Archbishop that is not concerned with enjoying material possessions and properties.
KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK, ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT.
In this case I think that the Archbishop was correct in that the Financial Report for the period July 1,2011 to June 30, 2012 will be a disaster. The Financial Report for the period July 1, 2012 to June 30 2013 will be a little better, however, it won’t be ready for release until this time next year. One of the problems which is apparent is that it takes the Archdiocese a full year to finalize and release an annual Financial Report (with Audit opinion) while private businesses can do this routinely in three months.
Meltdown has been needed for a long time. Kudos to Archbishop Chaput!! We support him totally!!!
Archbishop Chaput is a breath of fresh air. His leadership style and faith witness is exactly what the Archdiocese needs and is an example of what all Church leaders should resemble. Despite my anger and frustrations, Archbishop Chaput has re-ignited my commitment to the Church.
I applaud the Archbishop for his honesty and courage, and above all his charity. Archbishop Chaput has a tremendous cross to bear in shepherding our Archdiocese, but he does it with a heart full of charity and zeal! I don not envy his task in meeting the demands of his apostolic ministry, but I do support him wholeheartedly and will continue to do so. Lastly, it is not the Archbishop’s task alone. All of us, the People of God in Philadelphia, need to roll up our sleeves and assist him in whatever way we can.
Archbishop Chaput’s position on reducing and/or eliminating the old costly ministries and programs that have been partly responsible for the financial problems in the Diocese(and parishes)is refreshing. I will be looking forward to the reports to come. We have been misinformed, in the past, about new financial programs to save the Diocese. They uaually end up not accomplishing what they were suppose to do. It would be encouraging to see less emphasis on the secular goals of the Diocese and more support for the spiritual needs of the Catholics in the Diocese, namely evangelization. So far the Archbishop have a good record.
Financial transparency is a step in the right direction for our beloved Church. The more we know about our finances, the more likely we will be to help out when asked. However, we also need consistent reporting at the individual parish level to know how our local parishes are impacted and affected financially. How can you say the parishes are autonomous financially when they are not when it comes to other issues? As Arch-Bishop, you should at least ask the pastor at each parish to voluntarily release their finances in a clear and consistent manner. This will go a long way towards getting local support and funding.
So the last bold sentence means…trust your Pastor if you can?