This is the third consecutive year that Voice of the Faithful, a Roman Catholic lay organization founded in 2002 and devoted to monitoring church management of sex abuse and finances, has rated the financial transparency of 177 dioceses in the United States.
Each diocese is rated on 10 factors. The factors include the ease of retrieving financial information on diocesan websites; whether a diocese posted audited financial statements; whether a diocese provided contact information for diocesan financial officials; and whether assessments on parishes to support diocesan offices are described in detail.
Once the 10 factors are rated, a diocese’s overall score is calculated. This year, five dioceses in the United States earned an overall score of 100.
What can we learn from the report about the financial transparency of the Diocese of Ogdensburg?
In the 2019 report, the Diocese of Ogdensburg earned an overall score of 42. In the 2018 report, it earned an overall score of 40.
What do the two scores say about Bishop Terry LaValley’s efforts over the last two years to advance financial transparency in the Diocese of Ogdensburg? They say that his efforts were either lame, ineffectual or virtually absent.
In comparison, consider the 2018 and 2019 overall scores earned by four neighboring dioceses: Diocese of Syracuse, 55 and 73; Diocese of Buffalo, 56 and 75; Diocese of Rochester, 42 and 100; Diocese of Albany, 40 and 77. The overall scores indicate that, this year, all four dioceses made an effort to improve their 2018 scores and were considerably successful.
The Diocese of Ogdensburg’s 2019 overall score of 42 is dismal and unacceptable. That there is negligible change between its 2018 and 2019 overall scores is particularly disturbing.
It is antithetical to the global church effort to advance financial transparency, indicative of a dereliction of duty and disrespectful of the faithful. That it provokes more cover up in the minds of thinking Catholics is shockingly reckless and deleterious.
This is not the way to run a diocese associated with a church in crisis, display commitment to financial transparency, heal the church, rebuild trust, fill the empty pews, advance shared church governance or treat north country Catholics. Bishop LaValley is obstructing the Diocese of Ogdensburg’s meaningful participation in the global effort to change, purify and save the church.