Eight months late in publishing its financial report for the fiscal year ending June 2001, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles now says it has no plans to release the statement at all. What an unwise step by church leaders who have been promising a new era of openness.
Normally, the archdiocese discloses its finances each March in its weekly newspaper, the Tidings. But "rapidly changing financial conditions" and the sexual abuse crisis made the financial report "not relevant to current conditions," church officials said in a statement released Sunday. On the contrary, it has never been more important for the archdiocese to be frank with its parishioners -- the people who keep the money flowing into its treasury. Molestations and recent budget cutbacks have shaken people's confidence. Several priests confronted Cardinal Roger M. Mahony with allegations that expenses for cathedral luxuries were the reason behind the elimination and retrenchment of several ministries that serve the poor. Church officials deny it, but they're not coming out with the full numbers. Nor are they releasing information on their legal expenses for sex abuse claims.
The 5 million Catholics in the L.A. Archdiocese have a right to know what's happening with their donations. And everyone else has a right to be curious about how this huge, troubled, usually generous institution that just plopped a cathedral in downtown L.A. is doing on the money front.