Study finds embezzlement a problem in many American Catholic dioceses
VILLANOVA, Pa. ---- An overwhelming majority ofrespondents in a study of financial controls in U.S. Roman Catholicdioceses reported cases of embezzlement in the last five years.
Eighty-fivepercent of the diocesan administrators who took part in the review toldVillanova University researchers that internal thefts had beenuncovered in their dioceses.
Thereport, written by Villanova professors Charles Zech and Robert Westand supported by a grant from the Louisville Institute, did not includean estimate of the money lost. But 11 percent of respondents said totalembezzlements in the last five years exceeded $500,000, while 29percent reported cases of less than $50,000.
In nearly all of the cases, police reports were filed, the survey found.
Zechand West undertook the study in response to the clergy sex abusecrisis, which brought pressure on bishops to disclose how much they hadpaid in abuse-related costs and to be more open with parishioners ingeneral about diocesan finances.
Forty-five percent of the morethan 170 U.S. dioceses responded to questions for the report, which wasreleased Dec. 13. The authors recommended dioceses establish fraudpolicies, conduct annual audits of parishes and establish a uniformbudgeting process that uses standardized software.
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