Finances at each church

Don’t know if this is the right forum. It has to do with canon law. Does anyone know if there is a canon law that states a person in the parish has a right to know where every penny of your money is going. Even down to each one’s salary in the parish if you request it? Thanks.

Every parish I’ve been in has presented a financial report to the parishioners each year and that since I can remember back when I was a kid. They are also responsible to present a financial report to the diocese.

Can. 1287 §1. Both clerical and lay administrators of any ecclesiastical goods whatever which have not been legitimately exempted from the power of governance of the diocesan bishop are bound by their office to present an annual report to the local ordinary who is to present it for examination by the finance council; any contrary custom is reprobated.
§2. According to norms to be determined by particular law, administrators are to render an account to the faithful concerning the goods oVered by the faithful to the Church.

Does everyone have a right to know the amount each person makes? I don’t know that canon law addresses that specifically but there has to be a finance council in every parish so some people will obviously know what everyone makes. Why would that be a problem? I would think the salary rate for everyone in the parish should be public. It’s one way to prevent abuse.

You could probably get that report from the parish itself or the diocese office

I believe in the US every parish is required to have a finance council, at least they are in our diocese. The finance council prepares a report for the diocese and usually publishes it to the parish. They are fairly broad categories, similar to what you see in a corporate annual report. I don’t think there is any requirement that highly detailed reports be available to all who ask and it would be a pretty bad idea, IMO to do so.

The salaries of most employees, in most organizations, are considered private information and not shared but you should be able to see in the report how much of the total budget was spent on salaries.

I think Corki accurately sums up the position and his advice is sound.

Here in Wales and England ( I am not sure about Scotland) every parish should have a finance committee but its role is to advise the parish priest rather than to make the final decision. I can see the argument for this but I think the committee’s role should be strengthened–there is a tendency for priests to power ahead with spending they see as vital even if the accounts say this cannot be afforded!

Canon Law is clear that parish finance councils and parish pastoral councils have only a consultative role. The priest is still where the buck stops because he’s the one who answers to the bishop. That said a wise priest will surround himself with people who are financially savvy and not just the Tom, Dick and Harries who volunteer because they volunteer for everything.

What I’d like to see though is every parish having to have an audit every year or at least every 2. That would root out the reckless spending in which some pastors have been known to indulge even if they need permission from the bishop for major expenditures. Many, many $100 purchases that seem innocuous can add up to a bigger problem than a few $5000 purchases that need to be approved by the diocese.


In the US, rules were put in place a few years ago that put more responsibility on the finance councils. They aren’t just consultive anymore (although the parish council is). They have to report to the diocese and have specific oversight duties. They are also required to be involved in any large dollar amount transactions. Our diocese does an audit every year of each parish and also has an outside auditor come every few years. Our monthly financial statements are also transmitted online to the diocese for review.

I think our FC has four or five members. Even among this small group, there is significant bickering about such things as whether the rectory gets cable TV, how often to paint the interior of the church or how much the food budget should be. I can’t imagine the discord if each and every parishioner wanted to second guess every expenditure. :rolleyes:

The problem is when the priest hand picks the financial council. When anyone questions any of the things being bought or people being hired that we don’t need they are sent packing and a new YES person is looked for.

How do your parish’s finances look at the end of the year?

Our pastor is trying to repay a major loan and keep the parish from running a deficit after his predecessor went to town with unnecessary purchases. As an example he bought for his own personal use a complete Oxford dictionary. $1500. I was so angry I let him have it. His justification “We have guys coming here to learn English so it’s teaching material.” Yes, because the person studying ESL will automatically go to the complete Oxford to look up a word. :mad:

He was a great spender but he never wanted to so much as see the bank statement, claiming he didn’t understand finances in any way, shape or form. IMHO, someone who claims that shouldn’t be allowed a credit card or signing authority over parish finances.

Not thread relevant but would someone please advise what the abbreviations IMO and IMHO stand for? I ask in this thread because they’ve been used in posts in this thread.

I’ve seen them in numerous threads but have withheld from asking until now in case people on here think I must be stupid for not knowing as they seem to be used so often. However, my curiosity has forced me to ask even if I look silly.

IMO: In my opinion

IMHO: In my humble opinion

Mmmmmmmm, so obvious once you know. Thank you PatriceA!