Thursday, January 13, 2005

Voice of the Faithful says Diocese is too rich

"Voice of the Faithful, an organization of lay Catholics seeking more accountability from church leaders, is releasing an analysis today that finds the diocese is sitting on excess cash reserves of about $180 million."

"The group's audit was done by H. Richard Grafer, a retired partner in the Arthur Andersen accounting firm and a Voice of the Faithful member."

Arthur Anderson is the auditing firm that was indicted for obstruction of justice in the Enron scandal. The Diocesan Finance Council issued a letter saying that Grafer has his facts wrong and questioning why these charges are being made at the start of the Diocesan Annual Appeal. I want the Diocese to be financially stable and don't believe for an organization of this size, it has "too much" money sitting around. However, I must agree with those who want to see Catholic school teachers get better salaries and benefits. We Catholics sh0uldn't have to constantly beg, borrow and plead for money for good apostolates or for religious nuns in retirement. I would like to know more about the Diocese and its finances and how we can be stronger financially. If VOTF is putting some pressure on people to accomplish this, then I have to say they are doing the right thing. I just don't think always pushing against what the Diocese is doing, or against Bishop Murphy personally is going to do much. I too believe the Diocese could spend its money wisely, such as cutting Telecare's budget and showing more EWTN. I would love to see the parishes in good shape but question some of VOTF's social services-heavy suggestions. Although I am not one to stick up for this Diocese and its staffers I must respond to this paragraph:

"The group's suggestions for additional spending include bolstering educational resources for Catholic schools, including increasing salaries for teachers; creating schools for new immigrants that would teach English and job skills; contributing to affordable housing in the region; and improving the care and living conditions for retired nuns."

The Diocese is already starting an endowment fund for Catholic schools and Bishop Murphy mentioned his goal of increasing teacher salaries when he first came to Long Island. The idea of creating schools to teach english and job skills to immigrants is a waste of money - we are already doing that in parishes, homes and through Catholic Charities. The Diocese helped build lots of affordable housing on Long Island under Bishop McGann and the Catholics who supported the Church for years have been heard to complain that that housing does not help them when they need it- they get put on waiting lists like everyone else. Social services are nice, but this Diocese needs to focus on teaching the faith, vocations, and saving souls first and foremost. The Diocese was one of the first to take up a collection to assist retired religious and it helped serve as a model for the national collection/fund that came years later. The VOTF just seems too quick to push against the Church rather than assist it as they claim to want to do. I would love to get behind them when they have good ideas that would help the Church but frankly, I don't think a group that spent about $2,000 to pay a clown like Fr. Richard McBrien to speak is a group that should be giving advice on how to spend money wisely.

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