MOST IRISH DIOCESES DO NOT PUBLISH ACCOUNTS ON THEIR WEBSITES
More than 60 % of the Catholic dioceses on the island of Ireland presented no financial information on their websites at all.
Almost two-thirds of the 26 Catholic dioceses in Ireland do not publish any financial details on their websites, a new survey has found.
The reverse is true in the US, where almost two-thirds of the 177 dioceses carry such details on their websites.
The Irish survey was carried out by We Are Church Ireland, a lay Catholic lobby group, which has called for greater transparency in diocesan finances.
A summary of the financial details of each diocese and other relevant charities in each are published on the Charities Regulatory Authority website.
However, the level of detail made available to parishioners on diocesan websites varies significantly.
The survey of the 26 Catholic dioceses on the island of Ireland found that 62 percent presented no financial information on their websites at all.
Only five Irish dioceses publish audited accounts on their websites: Down & Connor in Northern Ireland, Dublin, Elphin, Limerick, and Ossory.
A further five publish some financial details on their websites: Clogher, Cork and Ross, Ferns, Kildare and Leighlin, and Killala. None of the remaining 16 dioceses publish any financial details on their websites.
Only 58 percent of dioceses identified members of their finance committee on their websites.
The survey was carried out to compare against a recent poll by the US lay liberal Catholic group Voice of the Faithful, which showed that 34 percent of the 177 dioceses there did not include any financial information on their websites.
Commenting on the findings, Colm Holmes of We Are Church Ireland said, “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 midtable, 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.”
Pope Francis, he said, “has put a strong emphasis on financial reporting and transparency”.
“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 is being driven by the Charities Act 2009 and the UK Charities Acts 2008 and 2013 for Northern Ireland, which also apply to the dioceses as charities. There are also 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,” Mr. Holmes said.
I do not have much faith in the Roman Catholic Church, either nationally or internationally, when it comes to being transparent about their monies and possessions.
When we see "published accounts" we are looking at the work of highly paid accountants - and we all know that highly paid accountants have great skills when it comes to presenting accounts.
It is like the old question - What is 2 + 2?
The mathematician tells you it is 4.
The Philosopher tells you it is a deep question that has to be explored.
Your solicitor and accountant say: "What would you like it to be"?
Take, for instance, the Diocese of Down and Connor in which I am situated.
Bishop Noel Treanor still refuses to make public whether his palace renovation cost £ 1 million or £4 million.
We are also told that Noel Treanor earns about £20,000 a year.
But how can you run a multi-million-pound palace and do all the international traveling he does, almost monthly, on £20,000 per annum?
I have spoken to priests and others who have visited Treanor's new palace, which is called CHATEAU NOEL by the clergy and they tell me it is better than any 5-star hotel they have even been in.
He even built a glass walkway so that he could walk from Chateau Noel to the diocesan offices with getting wet!
We know that when the now disgraced Cardinal Pell took over Vatican finances he discovered hundreds of secret bank accounts with billions of euros in them.
And when the recently retired Cardinal Secretary of State left his job he spent a massive fortune on his new Vatican apartment with Euros 400,000 taken from a Rome baby hospital and with a Euro 50,000 kitchen - provoking Pope Francis to ask: "Is it made of gold"?
In New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan transferred diocesan funds to a cemetery fund to stop victims of child abuse taking the money in lawsuits.
Several US retired archbishops spent millions on their retirement homes.
I think that we would all be amazed if the Catholic Church in Ireland - dioceses and religious and honestly listed:
1. The total value of all their property and other holdings.
2. The total monies contained in ALL bank and other accounts.
I must say I take all "published accounts" with a large grain of salt!