January 01, 2005

Laity group scrutinizing church's finances

Miami Herald


One Catholic Voice for Action, a South Florida laity group, has recently begun poring over the books of the Archdiocese of Miami -- the financial ones.

Almost three years after the sexual abuse scandal broke out in the Roman Catholic Church, laity groups such as One Catholic Voice have spread their concerns to the collection plate and management of parishioners' contributions.

''We have serious concerns -- serious, serious concerns -- about the financial matters of the Archdiocese of Miami,'' said John-Campbell Barmmer, a businessman who is president of One Catholic Voice. The year-old group has 140 members in Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties.

Nationwide, church finances are becoming a huge issue as Catholic dioceses in Tucson, Ariz., Portland, Ore. and Spokane, Wash., have declared bankruptcy after paying out millions of dollars to settle sexual abuse lawsuits.

So far, the Archdiocese of Miami has escaped such harsh times, though it has struggled with the stock market downtown and the challenges of serving community with pockets of poverty.

In September, the Miami hierarchy announced it had settled for $3.4 million almost two dozen cases brought by former altar boys and other youths who accused Catholic priests of sexually abusing them decades ago. At Saturday and Sunday Masses next weekend, the Archdiocese expects to release a report on how much it has paid out in the last year in sexual abuse settlements and other cases, including worker's comp, spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta said.

Posted by kshaw at January 1, 2005 07:58 AM