Diocese of Charleston earns clear report on finances

CHARLESTON—The Diocese of Charleston has received a near flawless financial report from its annual audit.

The audit, conducted by Cherry Bekaert CPAs & Advisors, looks at the financial accountability of the Chancery, Catholic Charities, and the Catholic Community Foundation of South Carolina, which was created in 2017.

The foundation’s purpose is to manage and administer the endowment funds of the diocese’s religious, educational, and charitable programs by promoting philanthropy to secure long-term funding for important ministries and services in our parishes, schools, and affiliated entities.

In the three governance letters provided by the auditors to Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone and the diocesan finance department, each of the three divisions received a clean report.

John Barker, CFO, said there were no material weaknesses or deficiencies in any of the internal controls. The auditors also reported that none of the three divisions required any changes of import.

Auditors did note a couple of opportunities for strengthening internal controls and operating efficiency, which focused on backup safety procedures for accounting and Information Technology.

In addition to the audit, the diocese also received stellar marks from the second annual study conducted by Voice of the Faithful.

Voice of the Faithful is a lay organization that was formed in 2002 as a response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Church. It started in the basement of a church in Wellesley, Mass., and has since expanded worldwide with more than 30,000 members.

Among its programs, Voice of the Faithful looks at parish and diocesan finances and grades them in terms of financial transparency and accountability. The top score a parish or diocese may receive is 60. 

The Diocese of Charleston earned a score of 54 this year, up from 46 in 2017, Barker said. He noted that they are close to being in the list of top dioceses in the country, all of which have a score of 56 or better.

There are 177 dioceses in the U.S. and 13 of them received a 56 or higher, including the Archdiocese of Atlanta with a score of 59. The average score is 39.7.

For a complete list of highest and lowest scores, visit http://www.votf.org/2018FWGReport.pdf.

Deirdre C. Mays and Amy Wise Taylor contributed to this report.

File photo: The Chapel of the Holy Family is seen at the Diocese of Charleston’s pastoral center in Charleston, S.C.