When seeking monies, the diocese as well as the parish will invariably emphasize the principle of stewardship. From a historical perspective, this is consistently viewed as a bottom-up, one-way street.
WE are to give because WE are supposed to. But, isn’t stewardship really a two-way street?
Don’t the diocese and the parish have an equal responsibility to be good stewards of the monies given to them? And, if so (which appears rather evident), how do they demonstrate it?
Exactly how do we know that our gifts are utilized/spent efficiently and effectively? Are there in place mechanisms to somehow monitor and then report on stewardship from the top-down and from the other side of the street? Here, I speak of something more than a simple audit.
Or, do we simply close our eyes and trust that our gifts are/will be used in a responsible manner because it’s church? Stewardship would seem to mean not only giving, but also giving wisely. Accountability in terms of performance management, goals and standards appears to be an aspect of stewardship that is sorely lacking.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan once said that the church must be scrupulous in the sound stewardship of the money entrusted to it. Wouldn’t it be an outstanding example of top-down, other-side-of-the-street stewardship if the bishop and pastors honestly expressed and clearly demonstrated the same?
(Editor’ note: Char Maaske, the Davenport Diocese’s chief financial officer, responds to Steve Lynn’s letter.)
We are very much in favor of stewardship and openness in reporting financial information. Publishing the audit and including it on our website is one way of doing this. We also print a brochure each year for each parishioner when we have the Annual Diocesan Appeal to let people know where donated dollars are spent. This is also printed in The Catholic Messenger. Any donor is welcome to come to the chancery to review our books.
I think if you visit the diocesan website and read The Catholic Messenger you will get a very good feel for where donated dollars are spent. Everything we accomplish is done with donated dollars. The diocese also has a policy requiring parishes to publish financial information for their parishioners. I know some parishes publish minutes of parish council meetings and weekly giving as well as annual budgets and financial reports.
The diocese has done strategic planning and set goals to be achieved. Employees are held accountable by having annual evaluations to determine if they are achieving those goals.
The Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Davenport is audited as well. You may have seen the Moving Forward in Faith and Hope brochure and video. Our report to donors will be produced following the completion of the capital campaign and may be ready for parishioners in July.