Guam Catholic Church Opens Finances To Public Scrutiny

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‘Unprecedented disclosure’ comes after leadership challenged

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Sept. 27, 2014) – Guam's Catholic Church yesterday made an unprecedented disclosure of its finances, two months after its leadership was publicly challenged to release the information.

"It is the expressed position of the archdiocese to be transparent in its financial management to the faithful in the (Archdiocese of Agana)," the archdiocese stated yesterday.

Other Catholic churches in the nation already have publicly disclosed their finances, at the urging of the Vatican.

The archdiocese publicly disclosed that it had assets of $177 million at the end of June last year. The bulk of its assets involved land, valued at $97.8 million.

Its buildings, plant and equipment were valued at $66 million, the archdiocese's disclosure states.

Out of $26 million in revenues for the year, ending in June 2013, the biggest source was from tuition and fees from its schools, totaling $17 million.

Contributions and church collections added up to $6.7 million during that period.

More than 64 percent of the archdiocese's revenues flow from tuition and fees from Catholic schools on island.

Nine elementary, middle and high schools were covered by the archdiocese's financial disclosure.

Church collections and contributions to the archdiocese make up 25 percent of its revenue source, its disclosure states.

With nine Catholic schools involved in the disclosure, about 43 percent of the archdiocese's revenues went toward salaries and wages, which reached $11.4 million in one year, through June 2013.

A group called Concerned Catholics of Guam placed an advertisement in the July 2 edition of the Pacific Daily News, challenging Archbishop Anthony Apuron "to publish annually, beginning with the fiscal year completed on June 30, 2012, an independent auditor's report."

The archdiocese's disclosure also followed a March 2012 letter from the Vatican's then-representative to the Pacific islands. That letter called for Archbishop Anthony Apuron to submit the archdiocese's financial statements to a Vatican office.

That office, called Evangelization of Peoples, had expected the archdiocese to submit a financial report in 2011 and in previous years.

In March 2012, Archbishop Charles Balvo, the Vatican's representative to the Pacific islands, sent Apuron a letter stating the financial report hadn't been submitted.

The Guam group that called for the public disclosure of church finances brought its concerns to Pope Francis' new Pacific islands representative, Archbishop Martin Krebs, who visited Guam in July.

The financial report released yesterday was a financial review by the firm Deloitte & Touche, and not an audit.

"A review is substantially less in scope than an audit, the objective of which is the expression of an opinion regarding the financial statements as a whole," the accounting firm states.

And because it wasn't an audit, Deloitte & Touche stated in its report, "we do not express such an opinion ... regarding the financial statements as a whole."

Some of the island's vocal Catholics have expressed support for the public disclosure, in part to clarify concerns over an apparent attempt to transfer one of the church's biggest assets, the former Accion Hotel in Yona, Pacific Daily News files show. The former hotel is being used by the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary of Guam.

The financial reports of the seminary will be disclosed separately in its respective website, the archdiocese stated. As of press time yesterday, the seminary's financial disclosure wasn't publicly available on its website.

The review by Deloitte & Touche includes 26 parishes, nine Catholic schools and the Chancery Office.

Not included in the review report are Catholic Social Service and the Catholic Cemeteries of Guam Inc.

"The financials of these organizations will be disclosed separately in their particular websites," the archdiocese said in a statement.

The archdiocese stated it's continuously working to improve its fiscal management.

It plans to hire an independent accounting firm to conduct annual financial reviews, beginning with the fiscal year that ended in June this year.

The archdiocese also made a promise "to have these financial reviews disclosed to the public as soon as they become available."

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