A group of Cleveland Catholics are suing their diocese. They claim that three lay employees of the diocese diverted about $2 million in diocesan funds to their private businesses. The article is a little skimpy on details. By “diverted” do they mean “stole”? Or did they redirect donations? What exactly does it mean? And how did they do it? Is there a criminal investigation?
One of the three, the former chief financial officer, was suspended from the job last year after a local paper revealed he received more than $750,000 from a “church accounting contractor” (what does that mean? a bookkeeper? an accounting firm? an auditor?). You’d think that kind of thing would keep you from working in the field. Evidently not. He works for the Columbus diocese now. D’oh! At least this matter was referred to police. I think this is separate from the lawsuit charges.
This is the kind of thing we can expect to see more of. Laypeople are starting to demand more financial accountability from dioceses. Yesterday, a commenter quoted someone as saying that the next big scandal in the Church will be over financial matters. In a way it tracks right along with the sex scandal: For the past decade or so we’ve heard isolated stories of pastors and bookkeepers stealing from the till, but some newspaper is going to break the whole thing wide open and the whole mess will come rolling in a big steaming pile.
Let’s keep the purification coming.