Helping others by helping yourself in Catholic dioceses

Saturday, December 30, 2006 at 05:04 PM

One more example of the personal corruption below the surface of so many outwardly pious moralizers.

Study finds embezzlement a problem in Catholic dioceses

VILLANOVA, Pa. -- An overwhelming majority of respondents in a study of financial controls in U.S. Roman Catholic dioceses reported cases of embezzlement in the last five years.

Eighty-five percent of the diocesan administrators who took part in the review told Villanova University researchers that internal thefts had been uncovered in their dioceses.

The report, written by Villanova professors Charles Zech and Robert West and supported by a grant from the Louisville Institute, did not include an estimate of the money lost. But 11 percent of respondents said total embezzlements in the last five years exceeded $500,000, while 29 percent reported cases of less than $50,000.

In nearly all of the cases, police reports were filed, the survey found.

Zech and West undertook the study in response to the clergy sex abuse crisis, which brought pressure on bishops to disclose how much they had paid in abuse-related costs and to be more open with parishioners in general about diocesan finances.