FALL RIVER — In the recent 2022 financial transparency report by the Voice of the Faithful, a national lay organization of Catholics that formed after the revelations of clerical sexual abuse in 2002, the Fall River Diocese was again ranked among the top dioceses belonging to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For the second consecutive year the diocese earned a score of 92 out of 100 points.
The report is based on a review of 177 dioceses across the country. The review was done last summer by a team of independent reviewers, with results published on November 30. The average score for the 177 dioceses surveyed was 70 (up from 69 last year).
“The Diocese of Fall River was specifically identified for its finance page on the diocesan website (FallRiverdiocese.org),” Joseph Harrington, diocesan Director of Finance told The Anchor.
The report read: “This year four dioceses stood out with excellent finance pages. They included two standouts from last year, Scranton and Fall River, and two dioceses, Covington and Seattle, that made significant improvements this year. Their well-organized finance pages made key financial information easily accessible.”
Kevin Kiley, Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer of the diocese, expressed gratitude to the organization: “We would like to thank Voice of the Faithful for their continued pursuit of achieving financial transparency for Dioceses and Archdioceses across the country.” He added, “The Diocese of Fall River has benefited tremendously from this process in achieving such a high score in terms of our own financial transparency for the faithful to have confidence in.
“I would like to thank Joe Harrington and the Finance Department team for their continued due diligence and providing all the necessary diocesan financial information on our website for all to review.”
On its website, the organization emphasized, “Every Catholic shares in the responsibility to ensure that funds donated for Church work actually go toward those purposes. Without access to financial reports and information on Diocesan Finance Councils, budgets, and the overall financial health of a diocese, ordinary Catholics cannot exercise their full responsibility of stewardship or verify where their donations to the diocese go.’
In 2016, VOTF initiated an annual report, Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency. On its website it said, “Such financial transparency must be one key element of an open response by the Church to survivors of clerical sexual abuse. It will also be essential in rebuilding the trust of U.S. Catholics in our diocesan leadership.”
The site further said, “Financial transparency can help address an array of problems that have emerged within the Church in recent centuries.”
According to the report, the reviews were conducted by three independent reviewers following the independent reviews, VOTF reconciled all scores to ensure that each diocese received proper credit.”