Transparency in Church Finances Remains A Problem


“The absence of transparency is not due to a premeditated scam. We ecclesiastics (priests) fall into traps because of our ingenuity, lack of preparation and ignorance.”—Rector Monsignor Enrico dal Covolo

Pope Francis is trying to right a Church long at sea. His latest move is to send church administrators back to school. The above quote is from one of the attendees of the first class.


Only in the world of church can such a nonsensical quote be accepted. Sounds like the definition of bumbling schemers.


The problems Pope Francis contends with plague us Protestants as well.


I don’t know the specifics of the mismanagement the pope is addressing, but I have encountered questionable financial practices in the denomination with which I am most familiar.


It stems from “lack of transparency.”


No one really knows what is done with offerings. We Christians are taught to trust!


Carefully calculated terms fend off questions. Who would question a “Mission Fund”?


$90,000 of our congregation’s money disappeared from our bank account one day in 1998. It had been conveyed without the congregation’s knowledge to our synod’s Mission Fund. The Mission Fund, we were told, is the repository for the assets of closed churches—accept that we weren’t closed then—and aren’t closed now. Two years later, after steadily pressuring Synod to return our money, a plea was issued to all congregations to make up a deficit in the Mission Fund, which totaled almost exactly the amount of money returned to us. The Mission Fund was tapped to make up operating shortfalls. But advertising the need for Mission Funds is likely to inspire contributing congregations more than a plea for help with the rent.


There is some robbing of Peter to pay Paul, as if Peter won’t mind! (Peter minds!)


The bishop at the time shrugged as he reluctantly returned our money. “In ten years, you will die a natural death.”


The next bishop must have been listening! Ten years later, there was another knock on our bank’s door! This time they wanted everything! What was to follow was not “a natural death”!


We visited a congregation the Sunday before it closed a couple of years ago. It was reported during the service that their financial assets were going to the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund. More honest, perhaps—but no more transparent.


Transparency in the Church is a huge problem.


It is a relief to know one Vatican administrator has an answer.

“The absence of transparency is not due to a premeditated scam. We ecclesiastics (priests) fall into traps because of our ingenuity, lack of preparation and ignorance.”


I’ll let someone else figure out what he hopes that means.