At the November 2000 Plenary Assembly, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved a "Resolution on Diocesan Financial Reporting." Affirming the episcopal conference's longstanding commitment to promote financial accountability in the pastoral governance of the diocesan bishop, the resolution encouraged the adoption of a voluntary financial reporting system as a means of offering further evidence of the diocese's compliance with the prescriptions of canon law pertaining to fiscal administration. The resolution was subsequently renewed by the USCCB in November 2004 and again in November 2006.
"As the one who presides over the particular Church, it falls to the Bishop to organize the administration of ecclesiastical goods" entrusted to his care (Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops
, n. 188). In doing so, he "must seek the collaboration of the college of consultors and the finance council in those matters determined by the universal law of the Church and when prudence so dictates, because of the importance of the case or its particular circumstances" (Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops
, n. 189, a).
The "Resolution on Diocesan Financial Reporting" acknowledges the legitimate rights of the diocesan bishop to administer the material resources of the diocese that he shepherds as a "good householder" (c. 1284, §1 CIC). At the same time, it provides a vehicle for fraternal cooperation and support among all of the bishops of the province, and assists the metropolitan archbishop in his own special solicitude for the suffragan dioceses (c. 436 §1, 1° CIC).
Annually, after the end of the fiscal year, each suffragan bishop is asked to send a letter to his metropolitan archbishop containing:
- the names and professional titles of the members of his diocesan finance council;
- the dates on which the finance council has met during the preceding fiscal year and since the end of that fiscal year;
- a statement signed by the finance council members and the finance officer stating that they have met, reviewed, and discussed the [audited] financial statements of the diocese for that fiscal year and, if any, the management letter and the recommendations made by the auditors;
- a statement that the finance council was consulted in accord with the prescriptions of canon law.
The metropolitan archbishop will provide this same letter to the senior suffragan bishop in the province.
This resolution, approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at the November 2011 Plenary Assembly, becomes effective on January 1, 2012, and will remain effective through November 2016.