Twin Cities archdiocese reports $3.9M deficitSt. Paul — The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has for the first time publicly released its full audited financial report for 2013 — which notes a $3.87 million deficit.
By: Emily Gurnon , St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul — The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has for the first time publicly released its full audited financial report for 2013 — which notes a $3.87 million deficit.
The report, posted on the archdiocese website and the website of its official newspaper, the Catholic Spirit, also contains information not previously released on the accounts used to pay victims of child sexual abuse and other priestly misconduct, as well as the priests themselves.
Over the past 10 years, the archdiocese has spent more than $8.8 million through those accounts, the report said.
“We are doing this (disclosure) because we are accountable to the people we serve,” Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piche wrote in an accompanying statement.
“Without the time, talent and treasure of the hundreds of thousands of Catholics who support the ministry of this local Church, we could not live out our mission to make the name of Jesus Christ known and loved.
“Thanks to you, support for ministry across this local Church remains strong,” Piche said. “Catholics understand that the tragic moral failure of a few does not define who we are as Catholics.”
Total operating revenue in 2013 was almost $35.5 million. Operating expenses came in at almost $39.4 million, resulting in the deficit of $3.87 million.
But Thomas Mertens, chief financial officer for the archdiocese, said that deficit can be attributed to the increase in reserves of $3.95 million to cover potential liability related to civil litigation. The financial health of the archdiocese remains “solid,” Mertens said in a written statement.
The archdiocese also reported total assets in 2013 of $59.3 million, an increase from $55.9 million in 2012.
Parishes and schools operate as separate corporations and are not included in the financial statements, Piche said.
The separate accounts
1-515 and 1-516 describe money spent on victims of child sexual abuse and problems stemming from priests’ alcohol or gambling addictions or sexual activity with adults.
The archdiocese spent $532,000 in 2013 for those payments, which include victim counseling, settlements, legal services and payments made to priests no longer in ministry because of their behavior. In 2012, that number was $406,000.
“The cost of living expenses of men in ministry is ordinarily covered by the parish or other organization where he is serving,” a statement on the website said. “When a man is removed from ministry, the archdiocese assumes that expense. The archdiocese is required under Church (canon) law to care for such men. Christian compassion also calls us to care for these men.”
Those numbers do not reflect all money paid for clergy sexual abuse cases; payments by the archdiocese’s insurance company for legal services and victim settlements are not included.
Critics questioned the accounting.
“We suspect the real figure is significantly higher,” said Frank Meuers of Plymouth, a leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
“And we suspect Catholic officials are using these figures to begin convincing people that they’re poor so they can pressure victims to file fewer lawsuits and settle those cases more quickly and cheaply,” Meuers said.
If the archdiocese would stop fighting victims, hiding “secrets” and protecting predator priests, the expenditures would be much smaller, Meuers said.
Some Catholics have complained that they don’t feel comfortable supporting the archdiocese in the wake of allegations of improper handling of abusive priests.
Mertens said in his report that, beginning in 2014, all contributions to the Catholic Services Appeal will go to an independent foundation.
“CSA contributions will be used for the benefit of designated ministries of the (foundation) and for no other purposes, honoring donor intent,” he wrote.
The CSA and parish assessments are the two primary sources of archdiocese revenue. Total CSA revenue jumped by 6 percent in 2013; the parish assessments rose by 4 percent. The increase reflects increased contributions at parishes “during the modest economic recovery that began in 2010,” Mertens said.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.