WASHINGTON (October 31, 2007)—The U.S. bishops will vote at their November meeting on legislation outlining instances when a bishop must seek the consent of his diocesan finance council and college of consultors for extraordinary acts of administration.
Discussion of a complementary norm for implementing canon 1277 will be taken up during the meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, November 12-15, in Baltimore. The canon (or church law) pertains to actions of a bishop in extraordinary situations in light of the economic situation of a diocese.
The proposed complementary norm lists five instances when the bishop must have consent of the finance council and college of consultors:
1. Initiating a program of financing by the issuance of instruments such as bonds, annuities, mortgages or bank debt in excess of minimum set in accord with canon 1292.1
2. Resolving an individual or aggregate claim(s) by financial settlement in excess of the minimum amount set in accord with Canon 1292.1
3. Engaging in the regular management or operation of a trade or business that is not substantially related to the performance of the religious, spiritual, educational or charitable purposes of the Church, for the purpose of generating income to carry on such activities
4. Entering into any financial transaction or contractual agreement, the terms of which address matters involving an actual or potential conflict of interest for the diocesan bishop, vicar(s) general, Episcopal vicar(s), auxiliary bishops(s) or diocesan finance officer
5. Filing a petition of relief under Title 11 of the United States Code (commonly referred to as the United States Bankruptcy Code).
In a second finance matter, Bishop Daniel Walsh of Santa Rosa, California, and chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Diocesan Audits, will discuss the importance of parish audits. The presentation will include findings of a report to the subcommittee by the Diocesan Fiscal Manager Conference. The bishops' subcommittee had asked the fiscal managers to develop a position paper outlining the rationale and importance of internal audits of parishes.
Church law requires every diocese and parish to have a finance council.
The bishops' meeting will be November 12-15, at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel. Coverage of the meeting will be open to credentialed media. Reporters seeking to cover the meeting can download a credential application form from the Web at (http://www.usccb.org/comm/credentialform.pdf) and submit it by November 5 via fax (202-541-3173) or mail it to:
November Meeting Media Credentials
Dept. of Communications
3211 4th St., NE
Washington, DC 2017-1194