November 10, 2005

Senate approves bill requiring churches to disclose finances

Milford Daily News

Thursday, November 10, 2005

BOSTON -- Churches and other religious organizations would be required to disclose their finances like other nonprofit groups under a bill overwhelmingly approved by the state Senate yesterday. Supporters of the bill, which has met opposition from the Catholic church, say there's no reason to exempt religious groups. They say the secrecy helped the Catholic church in Massachusetts hide the burgeoning scandal from public view. One way to prevent a repeat of the scandal is to bring the finances out into the light, backers of the bill said.

"We have a law that enables that darkness," said state Sen. Marian Walsh, D-Boston, chief sponsor of the bill, which was approved 33-4 in the Senate. "Moral transparency and financial transparency are inextricably linked."

Critics and parishioners have demanded greater transparency since the church began paying out sex abuse settlements. The sexual abuse crisis that struck the church worldwide started with the release of documents in Boston.

Archbishop Sean O'Malley last month pledged "full disclosure" of the archdiocese's finances, including the sources of all clergy sex abuse payments and the fiscal health of every parish, comparing the self-imposed rules to the disclosures required of public corporations.

Posted by kshaw at November 10, 2005 08:02 AM