Friday, June 25, 2010

Embezzlement: The Next Scandal?

I hope your week has been a good one thus far. It is a gloriously sunny morning here in Chicago.

I've been meaning to talk about an issue on this blog for some time. It is a delicate one that no one really seems to want to talk about. I believe this is the next potential scandal that will hit the Catholic Church, as well as other denominations. This is the issue of embezzlement of church funds.

There is a story reported in this week's edition of the Boston Pilot, which is the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston. The article, "Three Accused of Embezzlement from Parishes," can be found here.

The press has been periodically dotted with stories like this for several years. Any Google™ search will take you to a number of press stories. At the parish at which I worked in the Diocese of Orlando, one of the parish secretaries was recently charged with embezzling an extraordinary amount of money. I spoke with a pastor friend of mine about this issue last year and he told me how easy it is for people to steal money from the parish collection. I know in my own parish that as soon as the collection is taken up, all of the cash and envelopes are placed in some kind of official bag, which is immediately sealed. I asked my pastor about this and he also told me that it would be very easy for someone to steal, even from the sealed bag.

Folks, I know that we are a church of saints and sinners. But surely there must be something more that can be done about ensuring that the money collected at Sunday Mass is safeguarded against theft. I know that on the Web site of the Archdiocese of Chicago, there is an area where one can report suspected financial misconduct. Look here. I think this is a good thing.

There are far too many people out there who are in need of the financial support of parishes. We need to do everything we can to put safeguards in place so that our funds are kept safe. Also, we know that there are those among us who suffer addictions to things and activities that cost more than we can possibly afford ourselves. Placing these people in positions where taking money is easy is simply misguided.

If any of you have any thoughts about this issue, please feel free to respond.

Thanks for listening to me rant and rave a bit today. I hope your weekend is a good one.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Anne said...

Electronic fund transfers from savings, checking accounts and billing to credit card is becoming more and more popular in many parishes. I realize most parishes are not ready to give up their Sunday passing of the basket but promoting the electronic way will at least cut down on available cash to steal.

Todd said...

Our sacristans are requested to recruit a non-staff person after liturgy, and the two together deposit the collection in a secure sacristy safe.

The more people involved, the better, at all levels of collecting, depositing, counting, etc..

brandy101 said...

I will never forget reading this article from Chicago Magazine in the dentist office and actually going back to the waiting room to finish it after my teeth-cleaning was done!