January 24, 2006

Local clergy oppose audit legislation

Telegram & Gazette


WORCESTER— The Rev. Aaron R. Payson, pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Worcester, said yesterday proposed legislation to require religious institutions to file financial audits and reports to the state is a violation of the separation of church and state and will put undue hardship on small religious congregations.

Rev. Payson is among local clergy who oppose Senate Bill 1074, which will come for a hearing before the House of Representatives at 1 p.m. tomorrow at the Statehouse. Several local clergy have been contacting area legislators to present their views on the bill, according to Frank T. Kartheiser of Worcester Interfaith.

Bishop Robert J. McManus of the Catholic Diocese of Worcester has also asked people in the diocese’s 126 parishes to contact legislators to oppose the bill. The bill is also opposed by the Massachusetts Catholic Conference and the Massachusetts Council of Churches. ...

Ms. Walsh, who sponsored the bill, appears to be motivated by concerns within her own religious tradition, Rev. Payson said. Ms. Walsh, a Roman Catholic, has been frustrated by the lack of public financial accountability by the Boston Archdiocese. Rev. Payson said laws already exist to deal with the issues in the Catholic church raised by Ms. Walsh. She could have gone to Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly and asked for an investigation, he said.

Posted by kshaw at January 24, 2006 07:40 AM