Philadelphia’s archbishop is making strong allegations against a former staff member of the archdiocese.
In his most recent weekly column, Archbishop Chaput claimed that a senior staff member stole more than $900,000 from the Archdiocese.
That person was fired last summer before Chaput took over. Chaput claims the person stole from the general operating funds of the Archdiocese. He also says that money donated to the Heritage of Faith, Vision of Hope, capital campaign and the annual Catholic Charities Appeal were not impacted in any way. Finally, Chaput wrote that the theft had no impact on the work of the Blue Ribbon Commission or the decision to close or regionalize any school.
Only one senior staffer was involved and the Archdiocese is working with the District Attorney’s office as they continue to investigate, according to Chaput. Despite Chaput’s allegations, the person has not been charged and thus will not be identified. Chaput addressed the outrage that the allegations have sparked.
People are angry about this loss, and they're right. So am I. There's no excuse for it. Non-profit organizations - like foundations, Churches, museums and many hospitals - tend to draw mission-driven people as staff. Most of their employees are honest. A few are not. And in a work environment based on shared beliefs and service, a dishonest person can do massive damage. Precisely because religious organizations run on the good will of the people they serve and the dedication of their staffs, they can easily become too trusting in their internal safeguards. But that only makes the need for tight financial controls and accounting procedures more urgent.
Chaput says insurance will cover most of the theft but the Archdiocese is seeking restitution. The Archdiocese is also currently recruiting a new chief financial officer and searching for a new archdiocesan controller. Finally, Chaput promises new procedures are in place in the areas where the alleged embezzlement occurred.
In the coming year, new and much more rigorous internal controls will take effect, along with tighter budget discipline and a demand for improved skills in everyone tasked with the management of archdiocesan resources.