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$hepherds $hearing $heep: Part 7: Case cont’d: “Financial Sloppiness or not?”

May 20th, 2011, Promulgated by Diane Harris

This is part of the continuing saga recounted to Mr. Cuomo in the letter given to him in August 2010 when he was State Attorney General and running for Governor.  The following is just part of the “Case of St. Mary’s Rushville” which begins in Part 3 and was appended to his letter.  As a reminder, anything in blue was added after the letter was given to Mr. Cuomo, but added for the sake of clarification to current readers.

Financial Mis-Allocations and Abuse:  St. Mary had savings of about $125,000 during the early stages of the pastoral planning period.  However, it was consistently assigned a disproportionate assessment for its membership in OLOL, beyond expense levels previously incurred as a stand-alone parish.  For example, it had less than 4 percent of the households in OLOL but carried 7% of the financial burden for staff, while still paying all its own heat, light, insurance, maintenance and other carrying costs. 

The Diocese also has a mandatory program called Catholic Ministry Appeal (CMA), referenced above, which is a required payment by parishes to the diocese.  If sufficient contributions for each parish are not received, the funds are simply removed from the parish’s savings account.  It only became clear in retrospect how the “tax” burdens imposed by OLOL administration, and also by Diocesan Administration, were setting St. Mary’s up for closure, “milking” funds from the corporate entity.  For perspective, the following were the diocesan CMA assessments in each of the years shown per household, compared to the “per household” CMA assessment for all the remaining OLOL parishes combined, without St. Mary.  There is no substantial difference between the financial ability of St. Mary parishioners and that of other OLOL parishioners.  See $hepherds $hearing $heep Part 1 for more detail on the CMA.

                  St. Mary Goal/household                    Remainder of OLOL Goal/household

2007                                 $94.06                                      33.39

2008                                  90.52                                      34.01

2009                                  109.47                                    35.64

2010                                    95.94                                      34.76

Moreover, St. Mary’s 7% allocation to cover OLOL expenses is also applied to the cost of maintaining the rectory in Penn Yan, though St. Mary must pay itself for the St. Mary buildings.  The pastor has allowed other individuals to live there, each man for approximately a one year period (one through most of 2005 and the other through much of 2009.)  It is believed that the former was also a vulnerable or impaired adult, whose staying in the rectory would be in violation of diocesan policy.  Possibly these men provided some work toward their room and board, but it did not accrue to the benefit of St. Mary which was burdened with 7% of the rectory expenses.  But, again, the finances are not transparent. 

Audit Unavailable:  I met with Fr. Daniel Condon, Chancellor of the Diocese of Rochester, in April 2007 to express a number of complaints against the pastor, including financial, liturgical and pastoral.  Among those complaints were issues of financial abuse and/or mismanagement.  I requested that the Diocesan auditors, The Bonadio Group, look into the situation, which I believe was done.  I had an opportunity to present issues to those auditors prior to their on-site work.  On December 9, 2007 the pastor spent about 15 minutes in the pulpit at the beginning of Mass reading excerpts from an “audit report” purported to be from Bonadio, and using the opportunity to deride my having caused the audit.  However, none of the excerpts addressed the issues which had been brought to the Chancellor’s or auditors’ attention.  After Mass, I asked the pastor for a copy of the report and he not only refused to make it available, but he accused me of “mental illness.”  Then he stormed into a group of parents waiting for their children in Religious Education asking them if they ‘hate’ him.  One father in attendance left, removed his family from the parish and has never come back. 

In spite of the 2007 audit, it seems there are still problems in the handling of funds in OLOL.  The report which I received from the OLOL Business Manager in January 2009 for my donations in 2008 for tax purposes was seriously erroneous, an understatement of nearly 22%, and missing 8 separate donations.  Quite frankly, it is typical of the sloppy financial accounting in OLOL and it took 7 weeks to get a reply acknowledging that I was correct.  There is no way for a parishioner to determine whether or not those donations were actually credited to St. Mary or to another church.

Additional Background:  This is a continuation of the Case Study sent to Mr. Cuomo, broken into bite-sized chunks.  More to come.  All together, we are aware of three men who lived on OLOL property during this pastorate.  The one who stayed occasionally at St. Mary’s, Bill, was described in $hepherds $hearing $heep Part 4.

The second person, Dennis, lived in the OLOL Rectory in Penn Yan for most of 2005.  Fr. Ring said he was interested in becoming a priest; however, he was not admitted to Becket Hall and finally left the rectory for the Evelyn Brandon Health Center and other care facilities.  We believe that his living in the rectory for such an extended period of time is in direct violation of Diocesan Policy, especially since his admission to care raises the question of an impaired adult, who is specifically prohibited from being housed even one night in a rectory under the Diocese’s “Safe Environment” policies, which Fr. Bob Ring even helped to formulate!  Fr. Ring said he had met Dennis during chaplaincy at Keuka College.

The third person also  spent about a year in the Penn Yan rectory and is the person referred to in the letter above, who resided there through much of 2009.  He claimed to have been sexually abused by a priest in the Diocese of Cleveland and there are media stories to this effect.  His name is Chris Kodger, a self-styled Taoist, and he can be found on Facebook or MySpace, telling much of his story.  Or Google Chris Kodger.  The reader will have to judge by reading those entries if this is a suitable resident for a rectory on the grounds of a Catholic School.  His picture is shown here since it is not confidential, and one wonders, since he was recently seen at St. Januarius, if he will also be seen in Pittsford.  The excerpts regarding rectory residents have been included at various times in the It Really Matters Newsletter, which is sent to Fr. Ring, who has never made any amendment to or correction to reporting regarding those visitors, even though the Newsletter regularly invites such correction. 

The issues were included in the Case Study to Mr. Cuomo because they involve questionable use of tax-exempt properties, uneven charging/crediting of member corporations (parishes), questionable employment policies, accounting, benefits and reimbursements, among other issues. 

 

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6 Responses to “$hepherds $hearing $heep: Part 7: Case cont’d: “Financial Sloppiness or not?””

  1. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Thanks for the expose. That there is such financial manipulations is no surprise to me. The DOR reeks of it. But better your facts than my impressions.

    I came from a Protestant background where the church’s expenditures were subject to church members’ moral sense, dictated usually by scriptural principals that they were happy to argue and that people tended to listen to and wanted to stand behind. That made for a lot of accountability.

    So the DOR is only selectively Protestant. In terms of financial accountability, they aren’t Protestant at all.

  2. avatar Eliza10 says:

    I Googled Chris Kodger, like you suggested. Here’s a synopsis:

    He claims (and, to me, it sounds legitimate) that he was molested at age 14 by a perverted priest of the Cleveland Diocese with an apparent lust for adolescent boys. However, Kodger, in spite of his own experience, never refers to the need to defend against the abuse of teens or adolescents, but instead, uses the more politically-correct language: “children”.

    Kodger’s family “…entered into a settlement agreement with the diocese. The agreement included a monetary settlement of $43,500…”.

    Is it fair to say that the 43,000 did not come from the sex-offending priest, but instead from innocent parishioner’s sacrificial giving?

    There was the problem that we have heard of before, of the Kodgers receiving an assurance that the priest would not be exposed to other “children” [and I assume also the actual object of this priest’s lust: teen boys], but the Ohio diocese simply reassigned the priest elsewhere, anyway.

    But apparently, the 43K must have been spent (perhaps on this boat: http://www.sptimes.com/2007/10/21/Neighborhoodtimes/Crackdown_on_anchorin.shtml) because now the family seeks more money. Chris Kodger, Father Ring’s resident at St. Januarius, proclaims:

    “Every parish should have a special collection strictly for the victims because it seems that the church is concerned only with protecting the perverts and sodomites.

    “Every diocese headed by a bishop who is guilty of providing further prey to a pervert must immediately resign or parishioners must cease offering one dollar. Every dollar that a person would have normally offered should go into a special collection for the victims.”

    Apparently Kodger thinks that Catholic parishioners should keep on paying him!

  3. I Goggled Chris Kodger’s name and read the Account. I also found the whole account of the situation of his and his parents – sexual abuse of 14 yr. male with a parish priest who had befriended his family -credible. (I suggest other readers check out the account and how the situation was handled). Instead of innocent parishioners paying out lawsuits for guilty priests, the priest involved should have to pay out the lawsuit, even if his wages in a future job have to be garnished and he has to sell some of his possessions. Any Bishop or other over-seer(s) who does nothing regarding the sexual abuse of a priest or reassigns a perpetrator priest to another church or position should be sued as well and the same conditions for collecting money should apply.(I do think the priest should have been criminally prosecuted as well!)

  4. avatar md0852 says:

    I find it strange that after an incident of abuse Mr. Kodger would choose to live in a rectory with a priest……

  5. avatar Eliza10 says:

    Yes, it is very strange.


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