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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.

Katherine FitzGerald

Watertown

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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(3) comments

Nice_Commenter

Nobody could wreck the Catholic Church in our region faster than its current leadership. In the Plattsburgh area the priests were told to go to the faithful and effectively demand $3,000 checks to cover the expenses associated with the church's tolerance for pedophilia. It is difficult not to want to rage at a group that constantly liked to pretend it had the moral high ground on abortion, while putting pedophile priests in with kids again and again.

Bishop Lavalley didn't bother to include where offending priests were located, and when.

zeitgeist

We experienced this lack of transparency in another form, last fall, when Bishop LaValley provided the Diocese's list of credibly accused priests. He provided names, alone, intentionally covering up middle initials, dates of ordination, parish assignments and dates, present locations, etc. In effect, Bishop LaValley defied transparency in order to protect offending priests. Seems he cannot or will not extricate himself from the centuries-old clerical culture of secrecy and cover up. Seems he fails to grasp or is unmoved by the profound harm its done. Seems he lacks the intelligence and character to navigate his way out of it. Seems he resists current episcopal best practices. Seems he has learned nothing. Surely it's led to disaffection among diocesan priests with integrity. Have they publicly expressed sharp disapproval and criticism? Why are the faithful willing to put up with it?

Holmes -- the real one

zeitgeist --

I often hear from younger people who tell me that Bishop LaValley is one of the reasons they have left the Catholic church. They do no see him as a leader or a role model and they don't want their children to be exposed to what they see as the hypocrisy of the church.

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