Wednesday, June 23, 2010

COMMENTARY: Churches Must Have Finance Committees, Audits to Protect Their Funds

A Catholic priest, Rev. Kevin Gray, of Sacred Heart Church in Waterbury, Connecticut is accused of illegally taking one million dollars from his parish for his personal use.

While embezzling or stealing a large amount of money is nothing new, the fact that it was taken from a church -- and by a priest, no less -- makes this a shocking situation.

Although it is Catholic law for churches to have finance committees -- primarily to scrutinize church funds -- Sacred Heart Church never had one.

The Archdiocese of Hartford is immediately establishing a finance committee at Sacred Heart Church. This is a good example of "locking the barn door after the horse escapes."

The fact is that all churches -- Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant -- should have a finance committee to ensure that there is no theft of a church's finances. Additionally, a church should have an audit conducted by a reputable company annually to confirm that the church's finances are in order.

Parishioners and other people who donate money to churches usually work hard to earn that money, and expect it to be used to support the church, as it instills its worshipers in the teachings of Christ.

One of God's Ten Commandments is, "Thou shalt not steal." Unfortunately, many people -- including clergy and church officials -- believe it is all right to violate this Commandment. People who violate this Commandment -- which is also a civil law -- subject themselves to punitive action by both God and society.

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