We are the Church

The archdiocese’s Financial Transparency Report published last week shows an organization in a dire financial crisis. The report revealed the archdiocese has a cumulative deficit of $46 million, a $135 million shortfall in its clergy pension fund, and dozens of parishes with unknown (but surely staggering) deferred maintenance costs.

The independent commission that reviewed the financial situation of the archdiocese was headed by Jack McCarthy, a principal at Harvard University’s Hauser Center for Non-profit Organizations and an adjunct lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government. The findings of their investigation, while bleak, did not include malfeasance or improper use of funds on the part of the archdiocese. They also backed the archdiocesan report regarding the funding of sexual abuse settlements and related costs.

Trust in the Church was greatly shaken after revelations of past clergy abuse of minors and the way bishops handled some of those cases. The media exposure caused many to reconsider their financial support of the archdiocese.

The Church’s response to the crisis has been comprehensive and sweeping including, in Boston, the release of extensive financial information and a commitment to ongoing disclosures. We hope the archdiocese’s efforts in opening its books to public scrutiny will have a positive impact in promoting healing and unity among Catholics as we move forward.

The scars of the clergy abuse crisis will remain with us forever, as they should. However, the Church has a Christ-given mission to fulfill in every generation, even if some of its members have failed to reflect His love.

The stark reality is that the archdiocese’s ability to serve the poor among us, to announce the Good News of Jesus Christ and to promote the moral values that sustain our society has been severely compromised.

Next weekend, May 6-7, will mark the beginning of the 2006 Catholic Appeal. This is a good time for those who have withheld their contributions to consider contributing again, and for those who have consistently supported the work of the archdiocese to increase their contribution.

Whatever the results of the Appeal, the archdiocese will adapt and continue to advance the message of hope and love that is at the core of its mission. How much the archdiocese will be able to achieve, depends on each one of us. We are the Church.