Archdiocese of Boston released a two-year audit Wednesday that showed
it running a $46.3-million deficit, largely caused by the massive
sexual abuse scandal which erupted there in the early 2000’s.
The audit, which covered the 2004 and 2005 fiscal years, also shows assets of nearly $330 million, but most of the money is restricted or earmarked for specific purposes.
According to the audit, the annual appeal donations that totaled $15.5 million in 2001 dropped to $11.6 million in 2005.
The decrease in revenue over previous years puts Catholic programs and ministries at risk “have never been more needed,” wrote Cardinal Sean O'Malley in a letter to parishioners that accompanies the 1,000-page audit report.
He attributed the decrease to “the anger over the sexual abuse crisis and the closing of parishes” and said the community must focus “on the long process of healing” ahead. He also referred to the drop in mass attendance, the low numbers of priests and fewer students at Catholic school. He said the trends must be reversed to create new Catholic leaders in the church and society at large.
The audit was conducted in part because critics had demanded more information about the archdiocese's finances after a massive settlement in 2003 for more than 550 people who were sexually abused by priests.
The audit also follows through on a promise Cardinal O'Malley made for better financial disclosure last fall, when the state Legislature was debating a bill that would have required all religious organizations to file annual financial reports with the state. The bill was defeated in the House in January.