Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Posts Tagged ‘DoR Catholic Charities’

Rochester Catholic Charities Sued

May 14th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

From today’s Democrat & Chronicle comes the following sad story:

“The father of a mentally disabled man who drowned in the Genesee River after wandering away from his Brighton assisted-living home has sued the operator of the facility, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester.

In a complaint filed in state Supreme Court this week, Walter Cromartie of Rochester claims his 27-year-old son, Jeremy Cromartie, was “negligently left unsupervised and unmonitored” when he walked away from his Westerloe Avenue group home for the last time on July 1, 2009.

Jeremy’s body was found the next day in the river near the Summerville Pier in Charlotte. An autopsy determined that he had drowned.

Lawyer J. Matthew Parrinello, who is representing Cromartie, said it was believed that the group home staff was not to leave Jeremy alone and that he had been sent out of the house to take out the trash about 4 p.m. when he went missing.

The complaint does not demand specific damages, but rather a “sum of money that will fully, fairly, justly and adequately compensate” the family.

A phone message left for a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester was not immediately returned.”

I wonder who is going to foot the attorney bills and possible settlement/restitution if it turns out the diocesan Catholic Charities were negligent? Will more churches have to be sold to raise the money?

Diocese’s financial policies hurt churches

May 4th, 2011, Promulgated by Mike

Gretchen Garrity and Susan Miller of All Saints parish in Corning have a thought-provoking piece at …

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester is a wasteland of closed churches. Parishioners are told repeatedly that there is not enough money to keep them open. Yet the diocese and Catholic Charities (which receives parish money) remain financially strong. How? The answer is found in the appropriation of parishioners’ offerings and government money.

First, parishioners contribute to the annual Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA). Begun by Bishop Matthew Clark in the 1980s, this effort has raised tens of millions of dollars for diocesan ministries. The diocese sets a goal for individual parishes, and each parish must meet it. If contributions run short, the parish must take the remainder from collections and/or savings. Consider All Saints Parish in Corning, with one church demolished and two others slated for sale or destruction. Still, the parish’s CMA goal this year is more than $107,000.

Second, Catholic Charities receives about $625,000 from the CMA. This is more than twice what diocesan schools receive. Between the CMA and government funding, parishioners subsidize Catholic Charities twice through contributions and taxes.

The next beneficiary is Providence Housing Development Corporation (PHDC). From its beginning in 1994, it envisioned using diocesan lands for redevelopment. The PHDC board president is John Balinsky, also director of Catholic Charities. PHDC gains access to taxpayer funds through government grants, while acquiring church properties at bargain prices for redevelopment.

The diocesan web of relationships directs the flow of CMA and taxpayer money for the redevelopment of church properties. The diocese, either directly or through its affiliates, transfers money and property from the faithful to nonprofits and taxpayer-funded organizations. Since PHDC is a corporation with diocesan officials as principal members (including the bishop, vicar general and chancellor), the property essentially remains in diocesan hands.

Catholic Charities and PHDC do some important work, and Catholics are called to serve the needy. However, reasonable people can debate how to do this most effectively where government programs, taxes and personal donations of time and money are concerned. Catholics can certainly question whether they are obligated to meet CMA goals that may be the difference between keeping open their churches or not.

The prospering of the diocese’s CMA and its affiliates, Catholic Charities and PHDC, has come at the expense of parishes. Closing churches has consequences: the alienation of the faithful; less ability to support local charities; reduction/withholding of contributions; and the loss of parishioners. This means fewer people to support parishes, the diocese and, yes, the worthy activities of Catholic Charities. Most seriously, it means the destruction of faith communities and possible loss of souls.

Garrity and Miller are parishioners at All Saints Parish in Corning


UPDATE: Several weeks ago Ben Anderson posted an article which mentioned another, more detailed critique of DOR priorities by the same authors.  That critique is located here.

What’s up with the bookkeeping at Catholic Charities?

June 13th, 2010, Promulgated by Mike

Two years ago a friend, who was in a position to know whereof he/she spoke, told me that Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester had called in an independent auditing firm in an attempt to have its financial statements certified as accurate. My friend went on to add that, after spending some time with Catholic Charities’ books and other financial records, the auditors had pronounced them a mess and refused to grant them their "seal of approval."

This seal of approval usually includes statements to the effect that the auditors (1) had examined the firm’s end-of-year balance sheet as well as income and expense statements and other pertinent records for the year, (2) had checked that the firm had receipts to back up claimed expenses,  (3) had satisfied themselves that the firm’s accounting methods were sound, (4) had ascertained, where year-over-year comparisons were made, that the previous year’s numbers also met all the above tests and, finally, (5) were willing to assert that, in their professional opinion, the firm’s financial statements were, in all material aspects, a fair portrayal of the financial position of the firm at year’s end, and that the changes in net assets and the cash flows reported were also materially correct, all in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles.  (Examples of such auditor’s statements can be found here and here.)

Catholic Charities’ books apparently couldn’t meet one or more of these criteria in 2008.

When a second and, as far as I can tell, completely independent source recently told me a similar story I decided to do a little digging.

What I found first was a page on the DOR web site with a link that was supposed to take me to Catholic Charities’ "most recent financial statement." Instead of a financial statement, however, that link leads to a copy of Catholic Charities’ 2008 IRS Form 990, which is the return that most larger tax exempt organizations file annually with the IRS.

CC 2008 IRS 990 - 1

I didn’t make a serious attempt to wade through the 56 pages of IRS forms and supporting documentation but the first page did show that the return was apparently filed in mid- to late-November, 2009 – many months after its normal due date. In requesting this extension Catholic Charities stated, "as a result of the new form 990 and the size of our organization we are requesting additional time to gather information to ensure the most accurate information is reported."  (BTW, anyone wishing to examine this return in detail is welcome to have a go at it.  The information here may prove helpful.)

The next thing I found was a web site called  This site allows registered users (registration is free) to examine the Form 990s and other financial information for a wide variety of charities.  When I entered the Employer Identification Number (EIN) shown above (30-0553416) into GuideStar’s search engine, the only thing to come up was Catholic Charities 2007 IRS Form 990, supposedly supplied to GuideStar by the IRS.

CC 2007 IRS 990 - 1

This time there were only 23 pages to deal with.  I skimmed through the return and found that it was apparently a copy made prior to anyone having signed and dated it, so there was no indication of when it had been filed.

On a whim I entered "catholic charities rochester" into GuideStar’s search engine and found that they had a SECOND listing for "Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester."  This listing offered Form 990s for 2005, 2006 and 2007, all supposedly supplied to GuideStar by the IRS.

 CC 2005 IRS Form 990 - CCR1

CC 2006 IRS Form 990 - CCR1

CC 2007 IRS Form 990 - CCR1

All three of these returns seem to have been filed in August of the following year.  Furthermore, even though they are different in physical appearance, all the income, expense and other numbers reported on the second 2007 return match exactly the corresponding numbers on the first 2007 return.

But the really interesting thing about each of these Form 990s is the EIN: 16-0743944.  This is an entirely different EIN than the one appearing on the Form 990 on the DOR site as well as the Form 990 for the first Catholic Charities listing on GuideStar.  Just as an individual is only supposed to have one Social Security Number, so too is an organization only supposed to have one EIN.  Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester, however, seems to have two.

Now there may be a simple explanation for these multiple EINs, such as the tax preparer simply messing up and entering the wrong one on a couple of forms.  Having had some experience in that line of work myself, I can see how something like that can happen.

But what I really find difficult to understand is why an organization like Catholic Charities – which reported almost $53 million in revenue for 2008 and paid its CEO in excess of $153,000 (along with another $20,500 in deferred compensation) that same year – why such an organization cannot get its bookkeeping system organized to the point than an independent auditor would be willing to certify its financial reports.

Sloppy bookkeeping can merely be a sign of carelessness and/or the lack of sufficient oversight, but it can also be used to hide abuses of the system. Either way, there’s no place for it at Catholic Charities.

Someone needs to tell them to shape up.