A group of nearly 100 Catholics is calling for accountability and transparency in the church's finances.
At a meeting in the Twin Cities suburb of Eagan Thursday night, Martha Turner of Catholic Coalition for Church Reform said she hopes to start a conversation with the Archdiocese for St. Paul and Minneapolis.
"We would like to hear your stories," Turner said. "We want to hear from you, we want to hear your experiences and your concerns about how the money is used that you donate to your parishes and that some of which ends up in the archdiocese."
The archdiocese spent $650,000 in a failed attempt to pass a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Michael Anderson, one of the leaders of the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform, asked the audience if the archdiocese's spending was improper.
"How would we feel if the archdiocese had invested a million dollars saying 'vote no' in opposition to the marriage amendment?" Anderson asked. "Would we be complaining about that? I don't know. I think it's an honest question."
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Several people at the event said the church's stance made them feel like they had to choose between going to Mass and supporting gay friends and family. They said they wanted to have more of a say in the way the church spends its money. A few said they had reduced their donations or stopped going to church.
The coalition plans to send comments to the archdiocese. The archdiocese didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The archdiocese sent the following in an email Friday afternoon.
"The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is aware that the group calling itself the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform (CCCR), recently held a meeting questioning the archdiocese's financial transparency and accountability. The CCCR is not supported or endorsed by this archdiocese, the universal Roman Catholic Church, or any entity or organization affiliated with either this archdiocese or the Church.
The archdiocese has a long-standing commitment to sound management practices and to act prudently regarding the resources entrusted to us by the faithful. Decisions regarding the sources and uses of funds, including assessments, are made in consultation with the archbishop's staff and monthly reviews by the Archdiocesan Finance Committee. In addition, financial statements are prepared by internal staff and outside auditors, and all finances of the archdiocese are reviewed by the Archdiocesan Finance Committee, by the Audit Committee and by the Archdiocesan Corporate Board. These groups include lay members who are highly experienced in finance and accounting matters.
"Early each year, the archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Spirit, publishes an Annual Report pertaining to the most recent fiscal year. This report, which is also available on the archdiocesan website, reflects the financial statements of the archdiocese that have been audited by independent certified public accountants who rendered unqualified opinions on the financial statements."
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