The archdiocese has previously acknowledged that it has not consistently handled matters in a transparent manner in the past. Archdiocesan leadership has made a firm commitment to create a culture of transparency over the past several years. The archdiocese continues to make strides in this regard, evidenced not only in our ongoing disclosure of clergy with credible claims of abuse of minors but also through our commitment to improved financial reporting.
Thomas Mertens was brought on board as Chief Financial Officer for the archdiocese in December 2012 and, since his arrival, he has made recommendations regarding best practices, including measures to improve transparency regarding financial data of the archdiocesan central corporation.
Mr. Mertens’ recommendations are supported fully by the Archdiocesan Finance Council (AFC), a body made up primarily of lay accounting and finance professionals, which has recommended more transparency in financial reporting. The AFC unanimously approved a recommendation in October 2013 at its monthly meeting to release the full audited financial statements.
As has been the practice for several years, in February, the archdiocese releases financial information regarding the previous fiscal year. This February, that release will include the posting of the full FY 2013 financial report, which has been audited by independent certified public accountants who have issued an unqualified opinion about the report. An unqualified opinion means that an independent auditor finds that an institution’s financial statements comply with accepted accounting standards. Parishes and a number of other Catholic entities are separately incorporated and report their own financials.
Since March 2012, new internal controls have been put in place and are strictly enforced. Additionally, for at least the past 15 years, the earliest for which records are readily available, independent accountants have been given full access to all of our financial records in order to perform an audit, in each case giving us an unqualified opinion on our financial statement. These audits were performed by two different firms during that time period.
The archdiocese exists to support the people, parishes, Catholic schools, religious education programs and other Catholic organizations of our community in fulfilling the mission of the Church. We take very seriously our moral and fiduciary responsibilities to the people we serve. Our leaders have made some mistakes and are taking responsibility for those mistakes. They, and our dedicated staff, work extremely hard to serve the people of our local Church. We ask for forgiveness for our failings and assure the people of our community that we remain steadfast in our commitment to learning and improving through these difficult times with the utmost respect and care for those we exist to serve.