Archbishop Chaput calls for publishing of Catholic Church financial data

Months after announcing the closure of dozens of schools due to shrinking finances, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will begin publishing its financial reports in The Catholic Standard & Times.

Archbishop Charles Chaput, in his weekly column, said the reports will be published over the next few months and each year going forward. The effort is aimed at increasing transparency and accountability.

“We can’t be confident about the future; we can’t even begin to solve our problems; unless we’re well informed,” Chaput wrote. “Much of this year’s financial information will be new. Some of it will be quite sobering. Nonetheless, beginning this year and every year in the future, we will provide to our people as full a picture of our financial life as a Church as we reasonably can.”

Chaput also said the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (APC), which first met last month and mainly consists of lay people, will meet quarterly to discuss pastoral issues facing the Catholic community.

“In practice, the council should be a local snapshot of the whole People of God,” he wrote.

Chaput has talked about increased transparency since he accepted a Blue Ribbon Commission report calling for the closure of nearly 50 elementary and high schools in January due to a continued decline in enrollment. Since then, several schools won appeals and will remain open.

Questions about the Church’s finances were also raised when former chief financial officer Anita Guzzardi was fired for embezzling more than $900,000 in church funds. Last week, Guzzardi was charged with theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, theft by receiving stolen property, forgery, and unlawful use of a computer. Authorities said Guzzardi wrote checks from church accounts to pay personal credit card expenses between 2005 and the summer of 2011.

Chaput said the financial reports and APC are just the first steps in increasing accountability and that more steps will be taken.

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