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Press Release For Immediate release

VOTF National Statement: Cardinal O'Malley sets timetable for accountability
February 18, 2015

Following up on hints given during a CBS “60 Minutes” interview last fall, Cardinal Sean O’Malley told John Allen of The Boston Globe on Monday, Feb. 16, that the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors will present “proposals for new accountability mechanisms to the pope within two months’ time.”

Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful® has been calling for bishops to be held accountable for coverups of clergy sexual abuse since 2002 and for penalties to be applied to those who continue failing to follow even basic standards. We are encouraged that there is at least a proposed deadline for presenting accountability procedures.

But the Vatican has often promised changes, reform and accountability without implementing such plans effectively and consistently. It seems that Cardinal O’Malley recognizes how damaging this record is. In the interview, he told Allen, “a lack of accountability for bishops who fail to make ‘zero tolerance’ policies stick has damaged the church’s credibility.”

It remains to be seen whether these new proposals will be realistic in terms of justice and whether they will be adopted and then implemented. If not, it will be yet another missed opportunity to demonstrate that the Church no longer will tolerate clergy sexual abuse and its coverups and that justice is more important than a hierarch’s position.

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

Contact: Nick Ingala, 781-559-3360, nickingala@votf.org

Press Release For Immediate release

Millions of dollars each year slip through Roman Catholic collection baskets
January 6, 2015

The Vatican recently reported finding hundreds of millions of dollars “tucked away” off the official balance sheet. This is only one dimension of the Roman Catholic Church’s need for financial accountability. In the United States, theft, fraud and embezzlement occur at every level, with parishes alone losing millions of dollars each year from Sunday collections.

Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful® is urging parishes and dioceses to adopt simple security procedures that can protect weekly collections, which are the primary source of income for most parishes, and has developed a simple test to assess the effectiveness of current security procedures.

A 2007 Villanova University survey found that 85 percent of the responding Roman Catholic dioceses had discovered losses and theft of church money in the previous five years, with 11 percent reporting that more than $500,000 had been stolen. A 2014 study of small businesses by the University of Cincinnati found that 64 percent of small businesses say they experience employee theft; although only 16 percent report them. Parishes closely resemble small businesses in size and number of employees.

A few headlines from the past seven years continue on that theme: “Priest indicted for nearly $700,000 church theft,” “Deacon sentenced to jail for stealing $120,000,” “Pastor gets five years in prison for stealing $200,000 from parish,” “Catholic priest pleads guilty to at least $100K collection plate theft,” “Ex-pastor accused of taking $83,000 from parish,” “Religious education director and maintenance worker charged with stealing collection cash,” “Former priest avoids prison and repays stolen parish funds,” “Cops charge usher with swiping cash”—the list goes on.

Additionally, National Catholic Reporter reported in 2012 that, “according to the most modest estimates, at least $89 million donated each year by the people never gets to the intended Catholic cause or recipient due to theft.”

But those losses can be cut. Parish and diocesan finance councils, which Church Canon Law requires, “would do well to assess the adequacy of their Sunday collection procedures and make necessary changes to secure the collections,” says Michael W. Ryan, the author of Nonfeasance: The Remarkable Failure of the Catholic Church to Protect Its Primary Source of Income, who has conducted a 25-year crusade to convince the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to adopt simple security procedures that protect cash collections.

“The level of this protection varies widely from parish to parish and diocese to diocese, and the quality of that protection ranges from good, to marginal or poor, with the latter being highly susceptible to weekly losses due to theft,” Ryan says. “This is why it is absolutely critical to positively secure the collections at the first opportunity—when the ushers meet to consolidate their baskets—and to maintain that level of security throughout the process, up to and including the deposit of all monies into the parish account.”

But “Ryan’s attempt to help the church clean up the loose security policies that drain funds has met with such deep-seated disinterest that he has virtually despaired of getting anywhere,” the NCR article cited above said.

As a first step toward better security, VOTF has developed a simple self-test, with Ryan’s help. He is a retired federal law enforcement official experienced in the conduct of financial audits and security investigations and serves on VOTF’s board of trustees. The test may be downloaded from VOTF’s website by clicking here. Consisting of 10 true-false questions, this test quickly and easily provides any finance council or interested Catholic a general sense of how well or how poorly their parish or diocese's collections are protected.

As a second step, those who take this self-test and find that their collections are not as secure as expected may download appropriate guidelines from VOTF’s Parish Financial Accountability web page by clicking here. According to Ryan, these guidelines will help ensure that every dollar placed into the collection baskets each weekend is, in fact, properly deposited into the parish account.

As evidence of their efficacy, Ryan says, the guidelines were codified and implemented by the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2005. Subsequently, National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management adopted them as the best practice for handling collections. NLRCM is a respected organization of laity, religious and clergy working together to promote excellence and best practices in management, finances and human resources within the Catholic Church in America.

More information is available at www.churchsecurity.info and www.votf.org.

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

Contact: Nick Ingala, 781-559-3360, nickingala@votf.org

Millions of dollars each year slip through Roman Catholic collection baskets

BOSTON, Mass., Jan. 6, 2015 – The Vatican recently reported finding hundreds of millions of dollars “tucked away” off the official balance sheet.  read more »

Press Release For Immediate release

Vatican report conciliatory towards nuns, but VOTF joins call for removal of LCWR mandate
December 16, 2014

Nuns in the United States can get on with their missions to those on the margins of society in keeping with the best traditions of their religious orders without undue Vatican interference—sort of. The Vatican issued today a report on its six-year apostolic visitation to religious women in the United States.

Roman Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful® joins in solidarity with its U.S. sisters first in being encouraged by the report’s conciliatory tone and second in decrying this investigation in the first place and the mandate against the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. VOTF would like that mandate removed as soon as possible.

The Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life began the apostolic visitation that resulted in this report in 2008. The visitation included all U.S. nuns. The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith began its investigation of LCWR in 2009, and the group presently is under a Vatican mandate calling for their reform and placing LCWR under the guidance of several U.S. bishops.

LCWR leader Sister Susan Holland, however, said the apostolic visitation report was “affirmative and realistic.” And Mother Mary Agnes Donovan, who leads the smaller Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, said the visitation was “a wonderful one,” during which they spoke honestly and “with the knowledge that what they had to say would eventually reach the Holy Father.”

VOTF hopes that, in the coming weeks, the Vatican will encourage the optimistic view represented by these two women religious leaders so that these issues are resolved quickly.

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org. VOTF is a sponsor of the Nuns Justice Project, www.nunsjustice.org.

Contact: Nick Ingala, 781-559-3360, nickingala@votf.org

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